BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The reading of a disgraced former sergeant’s name at a memorial service was the last straw for the head of Baltimore County’s police union.
The union made a rare move Monday night—a vote of “no confidence” in Chief Melissa Hyatt.READ MORE: Man Arrested In Downtown Baltimore Shooting, Police Say
That sergeant, Tia Bynum, was accused of helping a friend and former officer in a multi-state crime spree that ended, police said, with him murdering her and his two children.
Union president David Folderauer wrote a letter to the county executive asking that he immediately remove Hyatt from her job.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski, who named Hyatt to the role three years ago and has the power to fire her, told WJZ he will not do so.
“I remain fully confident in Chief Hyatt and her ability to lead the Baltimore County Police Department,” he wrote. “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.”
The union vote is not binding and any employment decisions are up to the county executive.
Olszewski’s representative said he was unavailable for an interview Tuesday.
Folderauer described taking the vote as “disheartening.”READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Tornado Warning Issued For Anne Arundel County
He told WJZ afterward, “This is our police department. We care about it, and we don’t want division like this. We care about the citizens. We care about protecting the citizens. To have to do something like this is not in our nature but the members clearly were not feeling heard. This is the only way that they could be heard.“
Among the union’s other grievances: The chief is inaccessible and has failed to take action on five cases of sexual harassment and hostile work environment in her executive corps. The union also claimed Chief Hyatt has not addressed a rise in violent crime.
Gary Geldmacher, a longtime resident of Landsdowne, said crime is out of control and he supports the no-confidence vote.
“Up here most definitely, especially where you’re standing. The crime up here is getting worse and worse by the day,” he said.
Chief Hyatt was unavailable for an interview Tuesday afternoon but said she will not be distracted and is committed to leading the force.
She wrote, “Unfortunately, a small group of my critics from within the current police union leadership have encouraged its members to request my removal from office. While I am disappointed to learn about this effort, I will not be discouraged.”
The chief refuted the arguments made against her in a statement released late Monday.
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— Baltimore County Police Department (@BaltCoPolice) May 24, 2022
Before heading the Baltimore County police force, Hyatt worked for Baltimore City police and headed security at Johns Hopkins University.