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Baltimore Police investigating whether major involved in vaccine rollout improperly accessed doses

A Baltimore Police commander has left the department as it investigates whether he used his position to improperly access the COVID-19 vaccine, officials confirmed.

The allegations surfaced Jan. 6, and the officer “separated” from the department two days later on Jan. 8, said Lindsey Eldridge, a police department spokeswoman.

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Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison confirmed that he learned of an “allegation of an impropriety relative to the protocols established for distribution rollout of the vaccine.”

“When I was made aware of that allegation, I initiated an investigation,” Harrison told The Sun.

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Stefanie Mavronis, a spokeswoman for Mayor Brandon Scott, said the mayor was aware that a member of the BPD “separated” from the department as a result of an investigation related to the COVID-19 rollout.

“We have reason to believe that this employee used their position of influence to access the COVID-19 vaccine, and that is what resulted in their separation,” Mavronis said.

She said the “actions of another person are currently under review in connection to this incident” but declined to provide details.

Sources said the officer under investigation was Maj. James Rhoden, a 30-year veteran who was part of the department’s COVID-19 task force. The sources requested anonymity to discuss a personnel matter.

Eldridge confirmed that Rhoden was no longer a member of the department.

Rhoden did not return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Police departments across the state have been rolling out vaccines to their employees, after being placed in the first priority group along with health care and nursing home workers.

As of Monday morning, Baltimore police said 340 members had received the vaccination.

Rhoden nearly left the department last year, when he was selected as the police chief of Milford, Mass., in March. Rhoden declined the appointment two weeks later, saying his family had decided not to move. Then in October, Rhoden became a finalist for another job in Massachusetts, as chief of the police force of Framingham. The city picked its deputy chief instead.

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