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Two female Baltimore Police officers promoted, colonel receives demotion

Two female Baltimore Police officers promoted, colonel receives demotion
Baltimore Police Col. Sheree Briscoe, shown earlier this year walking the streets of West Baltimore to interact with community residents, was promoted this week and will now lead the entire criminal investigations division. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun)

A veteran Baltimore Police officer will lead the department’s criminal investigations division after being promoted to colonel Friday, and another female commander is being promoted to take her old job.

Col. Sheree Briscoe will take over the criminal investigations unit as chief of detectives, replacing Byron Conaway, who is being demoted from colonel to major, the department announced Friday. Briscoe will become the first African American woman to become a colonel in the department and its highest ranking woman.

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Maj. Monique Brown, a 19-year veteran of the force, will step up to fill Briscoe’s former role as lieutenant colonel, taking command of the Neighborhood Services Section and the Special Operations Section of the Patrol Division.

Baltimore Police Maj. Monique Brown, commander of the Southern District, talks about her career in law enforcement in March 2019.
Baltimore Police Maj. Monique Brown, commander of the Southern District, talks about her career in law enforcement in March 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

The new assignments take effect Sunday as Police Commissioner Michael Harrison continues to shape his command structure.

Briscoe was named a lieutenant colonel in April 2018 and managed three patrol districts while also leading community engagement efforts like the Homeless Outreach Team and Youth Services Section. Briscoe served as the commander of the Western District from 2015 to 2018.

Earlier this summer, Briscoe participated in an invite-only, 10-week training session at the FBI National Academy in Quanitco, Virginia. The training is a command and executive program designed to help improve justice in police departments and raise law enforcement standards. In order to be selected, Briscoe first had to be nominated by police department leaders, Harrison said.

“Colonel Briscoe has had a long and honorable law enforcement career, during which she has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and an unwavering commitment to BPD and the City of Baltimore," Harrison said in a statemen. “I’ve also been extremely impressed by how deeply respected she is, both inside the department and in the community.”

Her promotion opens up a spot for Brown, who became a major in 2018 and has since run the Southern District. Prior to that, she was the Southern District executive officer after being promoted to captain in 2017. The department said that in both roles Brown focused on reducing violent crime and police-community relations.

Conaway, the former chief of criminal investigation, will take over Brown’s former position as the commander of the Southern District. Harrison did not explain why he made the change.

The city paid $135,000 in 2017 to settle a suit filed by an unarmed man shot by Conaway in 2015. Conaway approached the man in West Baltimore’s Morrell Park neighborhood, suspecting narcotics activity, and shot the man in the thigh, fearing he was armed when the man did not respond to commands and refused to show his hands.

In 2016, Baltimore prosecutors said the police commander did nothing illegal and determined the shooting was justified. City lawyers said they decided to settle the case after reviewing the facts and legal issues involved in the suit.

In 2011, the city paid $67,500 to settle a Baltimore resident’s claim that Conaway and other officers beat him during a robbery-related interrogation in 2007, after the store where the man worked was robbed. In charging documents in the case, Conaway said he “pushed the defendant to the ground” after the man reached for his service weapon. The man said he was “physically battered” by the officers when he tried to leave the room, after being told he was not under arrest.

The man was charged subsequently with assaulting Conaway and resisting arrest, but the assault charge was dismissed and a jury acquitted him of resisting arrest. He then sued, saying the officers had violated his rights.

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