Baltimore County declines reimbursement for helping city with riot response

Baltimore County declines $257,000 in reimbursement for riot response in the city.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Wednesday he won't seek repayment of the $257,000 it cost to send police officers and emergency responders to Baltimore during this spring's unrest.

"Frankly, we provided this personnel on an emergency basis with no expectation of a reimbursement," Kamenetz said. "The city is our neighbor, and when a friend is down, you lend them a helping hand and help them step up."

"The residents of Baltimore County recognize that a strong Baltimore City is key to regional strength and stability, and for that reason, the county will not seek reimbursement," Kamenetz said in a statement.

Last week, city officials announced they would pay surrounding counties a combined $1.8 million for their help in responding to the unrest in April and May after the death of Freddie Gray. The reimbursements are part of $20 million in costs related to the unrest that the city expects to spend.

Gray, 25, died April 19 after suffering a spinal injury a week earlier while riding handcuffed in a police van. On the day of Gray's funeral, April 27, the city erupted in rioting, looting and arson. About 400 businesses were damaged and dozens of fires set.

Members of the Maryland Army National Guard, state troopers and officers from other jurisdictions were brought in to help police the city and maintain a curfew imposed after the rioting.

In the days after the riots, Baltimore County police officials said, they had about 50 officers assisting in the city.

The county Police Department has enough in its overtime budget to cover the costs, Kamenetz said.

Howard Libit, a spokesman for the mayor, said that while the city appreciates the "very thoughtful gesture" from Baltimore County, he doesn't expect other jurisdictions to follow suit.

"We are ready and willing to pay our obligations," Libit said.

Of the reimbursements announced last week, Anne Arundel County is due the largest check for $426,000. Anne Arundel County spokesman Owen McEvoy said the county plans to accept its reimbursement when it arrives.

Howard County received a $373,000 reimbursement in November, said county spokeswoman Deidre McCabe.

Other reimbursements include $296,000 to Montgomery County, $73,000 to Harford County and $41,000 to Carroll County.

Baltimore County and other jurisdictions also have sent officers to the city during court hearings involving the six police officers charged in Gray's death. The first trial ended in a mistrial this month after jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

Kamenetz said he hasn't decided whether he'll also decline reimbursement for those costs.

pwood@baltsun.com

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