Baltimore County

Baltimore County Police Chief Hyatt: FOP no-confidence vote is a ‘distraction,’ agency to move forward

A day after rank-and-file officers took the rare move of publicly stating they’d lost confidence in department leadership, Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt dismissed the no-confidence vote’s significance and pledged to move forward.

Hyatt, who is nearing three years at the agency’s helm, called the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 vote a “minor distraction,” reiterating comments that it was driven by a small fraction of the county’s roughly 1,900 sworn police officers.


The chief said she planned to continue an open dialogue with FOP leadership moving forward, but emphasized she didn’t plan to back away from conflict.

“Our mission from yesterday, of working diligently in the community to keep Baltimore County safe, is our mission today, and it’s going to be our mission tomorrow,” Hyatt said. “This is a small effort to distract [from] those important priorities. And that’s not going to happen.”


The no-confidence vote appears to be unprecedented in recent Baltimore County history.

There is no official tally for the vote, which was closed to the media. FOP President Dave Folderauer has described it as a unanimous voice vote by what he estimated were roughly 150 FOP members in attendance.

The police union members requested Hyatt be immediately removed as chief because its membership had “lost all faith and confidence,” as Folderauer wrote in a letter notifying the county executive of the vote.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. has said he won’t remove Hyatt, the agency’s first female police chief.

Instead, in the wake of the FOP vote, he’s loudly supported her, saying he remains fully confident in her leadership.

Both Hyatt and Olszewski, a Democrat, questioned whether recent changes in the department, including both moves made by Hyatt and external factors such as statewide police reform legislation or the coronavirus pandemic, contributed to officers’ frustrations.

“This has been a really difficult time to be a police officer,” Hyatt said. “I really think that despite all these changes, the majority of our workforce has done an extraordinary job adapting to those changes and continuing to do their jobs incredibly well.”

“But yes, there is a very small fraction of the organization that has been very vocal about some of their discontent with some of this work,” she added. “But we continue to move forward.”


Folderauer, the FOP president, pushed back on that idea. The vote had “nothing to do with police reform,” he said, and “everything to do with the leadership or lack of leadership by Chief Melissa Hyatt.”

Calling the vote a distraction was minimizing the concerns of officers, Folderauer added.

“The intent of the Fraternal Order of Police is not to distract anyone. It is to bring forth the will and the voice of the membership,” he said. “And I’m extremely disappointed that neither the county executive nor Melissa Hyatt is taking into consideration that the members are frustrated, hurting and don’t feel supported.”

Among the reasons for the no-confidence vote, as laid out in Folderauer’s letter: Hyatt’s handling of sexual harassment and hostile work environment cases among high-ranking officers; her refusal to take questions during in-service training; the hiring of leaders from outside the county without “experience and knowledge” about the agency; her work to address crime in the county; and the inclusion of a controversial sergeant’s name in a memorial service for fallen officers.

Some, including County Council members, have said it’s important the chief address the issues brought forward.

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Calling the vote of no confidence “troubling,” Council Chairman Julian Jones, a Woodstock Democrat, said he hoped they can “get together and iron out any issues that they have.”


“And it sounds like there’s a lot,” he said.

Councilman David Marks, too, a Perry Hall Republican, said he thinks it is “imperative that the police chief take all steps, both large and small, to repair this critical relationship with our largest police stakeholder organization.”

Hyatt said Tuesday that she would continue to offer open communication with FOP leaders, referencing a canceled meeting in the process of being rescheduled and a union liaison tasked with offering feedback opportunities, and called it important for the union and leadership to be “focused in the same direction.”

And she said she remained focused on key agency priorities — crime reduction, building community relationships, accountability, employee wellness, and providing training and equipment for officers.

“The welfare of our troops and the safety of the community are my two top priorities and nothing’s going to distract or deter from that,” Hyatt said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.