Harford County's three municipal police forces and the Sheriff's Office continued assisting the Baltimore Police Department by sending officers to the city in shifts throughout last week to help quell civil unrest tied to the death of Freddie Gray, a city man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody.
Things began to quiet down following Friday's announcement by the Baltimore state's attorney that six city police officers were being charged criminally in connection with Gray's death. One of those charged, Officer Edward Nero, is a Bel Air resident.
The Sheriff's Office sent 22 deputies on Saturday, April 25, at the request of Baltimore police, spokesperson Cristie Kahler said. The agency was again asked to assist from Monday, April 27, through this past Saturday, with the same average number of deputies, Kahler said.
Following a large demonstration in the city Saturday, the nighttime curfew was lifted Sunday and most of the police reinforcements and National Guard troops called up by the governor returned to their home bases.
"Together we reported to a staging area at noon and worked12-hour shifts in Baltimore, assisting as needed," Kahler said. "The only additional resources we deployed were our tactical rescue vehicle and a passenger van."
Unlike the previous weekend, when several deputies reported minor injuries to their legs from items being thrown at them by rioters, no injuries or issues were reported by Harford's law enforcement officials this week.
Services to Harford residents were not affected by the deployments, spokespersons for the participating Harford agencies said.
"The sheriff was very specific that this would not impact the communities of Harford County," Kahler said. "All deputies offered to assist, outside of their normal job duties, to ensure patrol and other services were not depleted."
A Havre de Grace Police spokesperson said all the municipalities sent a contingent to the Inner Harbor, with Havre de Grace officers going Friday and Saturday.
"Friday we sent four officers down who worked the Inner Harbor area, and Saturday we sent six officers," spokesperson Julie Morgan said Monday. "They worked 12-hour shifts without any incidents occurring during their time of duty."
Bel Air Police Department, which prepared all week for an expected demonstration in town Thursday, sent three officers to Baltimore on Friday and three on Saturday. The Bel Air demonstration, which took place in front of the circuit courthouse for about three hours, was orderly and relatively trouble free, police said.
"There was no impact on our service to the citizens or visitors of Bel Air," Sgt. Jim Lockard, a BAPD spokesperson, said about the aid rendered in Baltimore Friday and Saturday.
Bel Air interim Chief Jack Meckley said no overtime was spent in assisting Baltimore.
"All the officers volunteered and flexed their hours," he said."No officers were taken from the shifts working to safeguard the town."
The Aberdeen Police Department sent three officers on Wednesday and Thursday and five officers on Friday and Saturday.
"Baltimore did not require our assistance after that," Cpl. Shannon Persuhn, a department spokesperson, said Monday."Patrol officers in Aberdeen were put on 12-hour shifts for a week so that we had enough manpower to cover both Aberdeen and Baltimore."
Aberdeen City Manager Doug Miller acknowledged his police department's contribution during a City Council work session Monday afternoon.
"We had 19 deployments of our officers to Baltimore City during that very difficult week last week," Miller said. "We appreciate the fact that the chief did spearhead that."
Aberdeen Chief Henry Trabert said five to six of his officers also deployed to Bel Air Thursday afternoon as part of a contingent of Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace officers, plus state troopers and sheriff's deputies, who patrolled the town and also monitored the demonstration in front of the courthouse.
During Monday night's Havre de Grace City Council meeting, Chief Teresa Walter said her department also collected plenty of supplies to aid law enforcement officers and first responders in Baltimore City during the first part of the previous week.
"Sometimes I think we just take it for granted that we have a safe city and the evidence of what we have seen in the last few weekends should never be taken for granted," Councilman Stephen Gamatoria said, as he thanked Walter and the police for their efforts.
Walter said the Havre de Grace department collected items like water, Gatorade and protein bars that were donated by the community.