The union that represents Baltimore Police officers called on Mayor Catherine Pugh on Friday to “reconsider” the appointment of Marvin McKenstry as the chair of a police oversight panel, saying body-camera footage from a traffic stop of McKenstry last month — and published by The Baltimore Sun on Friday — showed he is unfit for the job.
“Mr. McKenstry’s lack of cooperation with a lawful police order caused a lengthy confrontation that did not need to occur,” Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, wrote in a statement. “What should have been a 10-minute traffic stop took almost an hour and caused several officers to leave their own posts and duties, endangering other civilians and officers.”
McKenstry, an associate minister at the Victory House of Worship Church in West Baltimore, is chair of the Community Oversight Task Force, which is tasked by the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department to review civilian oversight of the police force.
During the April 13 traffic stop, McKenstry refused 60 requests for his license and registration, as he argued the stop was unlawful. During the stop, McKenstry sought to get in touch with a high-ranking police official who used to serve on the oversight panel with him, prior to being hired by the department in February.
McKenstry called the stop “a misunderstanding that’s been resolved” in an interview with The Sun this week, but declined to comment further.
“My focus is on the task force and completing that work for the city of Baltimore,” McKenstry said.
In addition to calling for Pugh to reconsider McKenstry’s post, Ryan said McKenstry should apologize to Sgt. Terrence McGowan, the officer who pulled him over, and to pay the $500 in fines assessed to him during the stop.
“Mr. McKenstry knows full well his civilian duty in following law enforcement commands and should be embarrassed by his conduct,” Ryan wrote. “If the leaders of our community cannot behave properly when it comes to interacting with our police officers, how can we ever expect to effect positive change?”
McKenstry’s citations did not show up in online court records this week, but police spokesman T.J. Smith said they have not been dropped. Smith said the handwritten tickets simply hadn’t reached the court yet.
In her own statement to The Baltimore Sun on Friday, Pugh called the entire incident unfortunate.
“All citizens, regardless of rank, office or status have an obligation to cooperate with our law enforcement officers,” the mayor said. “This was an unfortunate occurrence that has apparently been resolved but also could easily have been avoided.”
Ryan praised McGowan for his “extremely professional manner” during the traffic stop.
“Sgt. McGowan’s response to Mr. McKenstry’s belligerence is a testament to the proper training that our members are currently receiving, and to his own decency,” Ryan wrote. “Mr. McKenstry’s conduct, however, reflects the disrespect and lack of civility that our members meet with daily.”