Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Baltimore City is on track for a record-low number of murders at 196 for the year. But police have also seen their share of scandal in 2011.
Mike Hellgren goes one-on-one with Commissioner Fred Bealefeld on the highs and lows.
Crime is always a hot topic in Baltimore. And the commissioner told WJZ he’s still in the fight with no plans to step down.
“This is what I do and I still love doing it.”
The year 2011 saw several of his officers in trouble for a towing scam that preyed on the public.
“We’re quite astounded that it was such a large network,” Paula Protani, a whistleblower, said.
The commissioner says more corruption cases are being brought because his department is doing a better job of policing itself.
“This department has very clearly demonstrated our personal willingness to ferret these guys out,” he said.
The department also changed the way it responds to incidents– after the death of an officer outside a club and revamped the way rape cases are reported.
One big success, the number of murders in Baltimore is down significantly from last year, continuing a trend.
“In 2011, we’ve done. what nobody thought could be done in this city,” Bealefeld said.
He saw success with the evacuation of Occupy protestors, too– no arrests, no riots.
But there was heartbreak…
“My little girl’s not gonna have a dad.”
The killing of a father at the Inner Harbor during the Fourth of July fireworks, and the discovery of teenager Phylicia Barnes’ dead after exhaustive searches.
“We just want this person brought to justice,” Russell Barnes, Phylicia Barnes’ father, said.
For all that’s happened, police have one goal in mind for the future.
“Until people can look out their window from the place they live and feel that sense of security, we haven’t gotten the job done,” he said.
The commissioner said the number of murders is at its lowest level since the 1970s.