BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore County police union wants to oust Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt, according to union officials.
Hyatt is Baltimore County’s first female police chief. Hyatt, a graduate of the FBI National Academy, spent two decades working her way up the ranks at the Baltimore City Police Department. She also served as the vice president of security for Johns Hopkins University.READ MORE: Anne Arundel County Officers Arrest Annapolis Man In Armed Robbery, Shooting, Police Say
On Monday night, the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police held a vote to remove Hyatt during a meeting at the Holiday Inn at Timonium, Maryland. The meeting was scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The union said in a letter to Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski that it had lost confidence in Hyatt’s ability to lead the Baltimore County Police Department.
Olszewski responded to the union with a three-sentence statement.
“I remain fully confident in Chief Hyatt and her ability to lead the Baltimore County Police Department,” he said. “Under her leadership, the department has shifted to a more data-driven, community focused model of policing. Violent crime declined by 16 percent last year and homicides are down more than 50 percent so far this year.”
Prior to the meeting, union members said in a social media post that they would discuss grievances, local elections, staffing, the Police Accountability Board, and the Police Memorial/Fallen Heroes Ceremony during the meeting.
Topics for discussion will include: Grievances, Local Elections, Staffing, the Police Accountability Board and the Police Memorial/Fallen Heroes Ceremony.
— Baltimore County FOP Lodge 4 (@BaltoCoFOP4) May 23, 2022
The letter listed a variety of grievances that the union states its members have with Hyatt, which range from the department’s disciplinary process to an uptick in violent crime in Towson.
The grievances include:
- On March 2, 2022, Chief Hyatt while serving on the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission voted in the affirmative to establish a disciplinary process for internal complaints that would have eliminated due process trial boards for police officers in the state of Maryland.
- Chief Hyatt’s handling of at least five (5) sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment cases involving members of the Executive Corps. In all cases, the accused continued to work at their assignment without disruption.
- Chief Hyatt refuses to take questions at In-service Training. This is the one time per year that officers get to interact with the Chief and have open communication.
- Chief Hyatt’s hiring of leaders and directors form outside of Baltimore County has led to a lack of experience and knowledge concerning the history of the agency. For example, there are many errors in calculating pay and overtime. This has led to multiple Fair Labor Standard Act violations that still need to be addressed.
- Chief Hyatt’s lack of accessibility to the membership which is demonstrated by the installation of locks and a camera on the Chief’s Office outer suite door and minimal appointment times.
- Chief Hyatt is unwilling to deal directly with the FOP leadership to try and address underlying issues.
- Chief Hyatt has failed to adequately address the rise in crime in Baltimore County. Citizens groups have voiced safety concerns to the membership of the FOP. One example is the recent increase in violent crime at the Towson Town Center.
- Chief Hyatt mad the decision to allow the name of Tia Bynum to be read at the Baltimore County Police Memorial Service. Tia Bynum is a disgraced member of our department that participated in the kidnapping and murder of two children, as well as the kidnapping and torture of the children’s mother. The act of honoring her at our memorial was the final blow tot he morale of the women and men that serve Baltimore County.
A press release issued on Monday notes that the union represents 1,760 sworn officers.
Hyatt reacted to the union’s request in a statement issued late Monday. She said she appreciated her three-year tenure as police chief and enjoyed interacting with the county’s hard-working officers. She described her previous relationship with prior union leadership as “productive.
“Unfortunately, a small group of my critics from within the current police union leadership have encouraged its members to request my removal from office,” she said. “While I am disappointed to learn about this effort, I will not be discouraged.”
Hyatt said she remained committed to leading the police department toward the future and would not be distracted from that mission.
She noted that it was a challenging time to work in law enforcement and that she was proud of the officers who have been navigating “through unprecedented police reform legislation and a global pandemic.”
“My work has been, and will continue to be, focused on our commitment to crime reduction, building and maintaining meaningful relationships within the community, increasing accountability, expanding our employee wellness program, and providing the best training and equipment to our members,” she said.
Baltimore County police union president David Folderauer spoke to WJZ following the unanimous vote.MORE NEWS: Anne Arundel County Executive Adopts "Vision Zero Plan" To Make County Roads Safer
“This is our police department. We care about it,” he told WJZ. “We don’t want division like this. . . . To have to do something like this is not in our nature but the members clearly were not feeling heard.”