Baltimore Police Department holds panoptic Open House

For years, the closest most law abiding Baltimoreans ever got to the inner workings of the police department were through the fictional (albeit fact-filled) portrayals in shows like Homicide and The Wire. But last night, one didn’t have to be an extra in a TV show to get a glimpse of the city’s impressive law enforcement capabilities.

From 5pm – 9pm, the Baltimore Police Department hosted a community-wide open house. The event was held at the Bishop L. Robinson Sr. Police Administration building (Police Headquarters) located at 601 E. Fayette St., in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.

Hundreds attended the free event, which was advertized in both traditional and social media, and through the list-serves of neighborhood community associations.  Due to the limitations on parking around police headquarters, shuttle services were provided from precincts throughout the city.

Officer C. Farley with his K-9 partner Ryker
Officer C. Farley with his K-9 partner Ryker.

The open house gave the public an opportunity to tour Police Headquarters; see an array of unique police equipment, and watch live demonstrations of various units in action. Citizens could also talk freely with Officers from specialized units within the Police Department. Baltimore Police Department recruiters and cadets were on hand to answer any questions for those interested in joining the Department.

Some of the highlights of the evening were the presentations at the WatchCenter Command Center; laboratory displays which covered such diverse areas as firearms, fingerprinting, DNA and photography; a walk around the rooftop helicopter pad complete with a cockpit tour of one of the Foxtrot birds; and a chance to meet some of the dogs and horses in the K-9 and Mounted units. The public also got an overview of Comstat – the state of the art center which brings individual units together to coordinate city-wide policing efforts.

Outside, the department lined E. Fayette and Frederick streets with elements of the Mounted, Marine and various Motors divisions.

Motor unit displays included two of the departments motorcycles
Motor unit displays included two of the department’s motorcycles.

The group tours – which lasted for well over an hour – went on every fifteen-thirty minutes throughout the evening. Light refreshments were also served.

Sergeant Sarah Connolly of the department’s Media Relations Section told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that – to the best of her knowledge – this was the most wide-ranging open house event in the department’s history. Connolly said they plan to hold similar events for the public on a regular basis as part of the department’s ongoing effort to increase transparency.

(All photos ~ Anthony C. Hayes)

Specialized equipment from the K-9 and bomb units.
Specialized equipment from the K-9 and bomb units.