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Crime

Baltimore County FOP calls inclusion of sergeant’s name in officer memorial service a ‘disgrace’

The inclusion of a deceased sergeant’s name during a memorial service for fallen Baltimore County Police officers has sparked a backlash from the police union, which called it a “disgrace” that tarnishes the memory of other officers.

The Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 tweeted after the ceremony that the police chief had recognized a sergeant who “assisted in the commission of multiple felonies that resulted in her death” — a reference to Sgt. Tia Bynum, according to the union president.

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Bynum, who worked in the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, was accused last year of being an accomplice to ex-Baltimore County officer Robert Vicosa in the kidnapping of his two daughters that led law enforcement on a four-day manhunt in November.

The search came to a tragic end with all four found dead in what police have described as a murder-suicide. Officials have said they believe Vicosa shot Bynum, himself and his two children moments into a police pursuit.

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The extent of Bynum’s involvement in criminal activity has not been made public. Pennsylvania officials declined to release a review by the state attorney general into circumstances and police actions leading up to the manhunt.

FOP President Dave Folderauer said there is “no excuse” for including Bynum’s name in what was a “sacred day for our heroes who fell in the line of duty, as well as those who passed while serving honorably,” and warned of the effect the decision would have on the department’s employees.

“Morale was already at an all-time low,” Folderauer said, “and the damage that [Chief Melissa Hyatt] has done is irreparable.”

The police department, in response to the FOP concerns, said it was “longstanding tradition” to acknowledge active police officers who’d died in the past decade.

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The recognition of those deaths took place separately from the wreath-laying for the department’s 10 “line of duty” deaths, a statement from police spokesman Trae Corbin said.

The statement didn’t specifically mention Bynum — who was a county police employee at the time of her death — or elaborate on the decision to include her among those recognized.

“Each year, the Baltimore County Police Department honors our fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Wreaths are placed at our Police Memorial in the name of each of the ten members who tragically died in the line of duty,” the statement said. “It has been a longstanding tradition of the Baltimore County Police Department to also recognize separately all sworn members who, during the last decade, died while in active police service.”

Bynum is not one of the 10 line-of-duty deaths included on the department’s Police Memorial.

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Her name was read during a portion of the ceremony that a speaker said would recognize “all fallen heroes who died during the last decade while still in police service.” It was followed by a moment of silence.

Hyatt, the police chief, spoke afterward and didn’t mention Bynum by name.

“Today, as we commemorate our department’s police memorial day, we recommit ourselves to continuing to keep our fallen heroes, their families and members of our police department and families across the nation who have lost those in service forever in our hearts and always in our prayers,” Hyatt said.


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