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Fired Eastern Shore police chief to join Baltimore state's attorney's office as investigator

Kelvin Sewell, a former Baltimore police officer and police chief in Pocomoke City on the Eastern Shore.
Kelvin Sewell, a former Baltimore police officer and police chief in Pocomoke City on the Eastern Shore. (Jed Kirschbaum / Baltimore Sun)

A retired Baltimore homicide detective who sued the Eastern Shore town where he was fired as police chief is joining the Baltimore state's attorney's office as an investigator.

Kelvin Sewell, 53, will work as a contract employee investigating felony, homicide and violent crime cases, according to documents submitted to the city spending board. He also will help locate and interview witnesses and act as a liaison with police agencies. His salary is listed at $63,925.

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The city's spending panel voted Wednesday to authorize the spending.

Sewell spent more than 20 years with the Baltimore Police Department, retiring as a sergeant in the homicide unit in 2010. He joined the Pocomoke City Police Department on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and the next year was elevated to chief — becoming the town's first black top cop.

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Last summer, Sewell was fired by the City Council. He has alleged that his dismissal was retaliation for not firing two officers after they had filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The employees had complained about a racially hostile work environment, including officers watching "racially charged" videos in their presence and regularly using racial epithets. The city has given no explanation for firing Sewell, and the dismissal divided the town of 4,000.

Sewell filed his own complaint with the EEOC, and all three officers in January sued Pocomoke City and Worcester County in a case taken up by the ACLU of Maryland. Sewell is seeking reinstatement and back pay, along with damages.

In a recent court filing, the state attorney general's office, which is representing the city and county in the suit, called the lawsuit an "absurd, meritless" complaint and an "attempt to extract some sort of undeserved windfall payout."

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Sewell had previously spoken out about racial discrimination in the Baltimore Police Department. Sewell said a supervisor ordered him to view a Ku Klux Klan website after insisting the hate group was active in Sewell's home county.

The incident drew headlines and was taken up by the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP. Then-City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who is now City Council president, questioned why no action was taken after charges were sustained against three officers alleged to be involved. Two of the officers were later given undisclosed discipline.

Sewell could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"Kelvin Sewell has over 27 years of law enforcement experience, of which 22 years were with the Baltimore City Police Department. We are thrilled to have someone with his expertise join the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office in our fight against crime," the agency said in a statement.

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