A group of 32 Frederick police officers helped enforce the first night of a citywide curfew Tuesday in Baltimore after the violent protests and rioting earlier this week.
The Frederick Police Department set a plan in place shortly after Baltimore and state officials called for assistance from other law enforcement agencies and the Maryland National Guard during Monday night’s riots, but Frederick’s acting police chief, Capt. Patrick Grossman, did not hear back from the state’s emergency operations center until about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, said acting Capt. Jason Keckler, commander of the city police’s Community Services Division.
“We already had officers on standby, so we initiated a call-in of those resources and we were able to have 32 officers here at the station by 10:15 p.m. We were on the ground in Baltimore at approximately 11 o’clock,” Keckler said.
After a quick briefing, the officers split into three groups that were sent to assist National Guard troops, state police, Baltimore city officers and other law enforcement agencies at Baltimore City Hall, the Inner Harbor and Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Keckler said.
While none of the officers was stationed near any of the protesting that led to several arrests overnight, tensions were still high, said Officer Michael Conover, who was stationed outside City Hall.
“Ours was a quiet post, so that was a good thing, all the actual rioting was going on just a few blocks away,” Conover said. “We knew it was going on, but we still were far enough away that we didn’t really hear anything. ... You always prepare for the worst, and, when it doesn’t happen? All the better.”
Lt. Dennis K. Dudley, commander of the Frederick police’s Special Operations Division, was also stationed at City Hall. A curfew that went into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday, as well as the more than 2,000 Maryland National Guard troops and countless other officers, played a large role in keeping the streets quiet, Dudley said.
“The street was empty most of the time,” he said Wednesday. “This morning, some protesters showed up, but they were acting perfectly in line with their First Amendment rights. ... It was a peaceful group that met with City Hall officials to talk about their grievances with the government.”
The officers remained in Baltimore until about 9 a.m. Wednesday, when more officers were set to relieve them, Keckler said. All 32 officers were back in Frederick shortly after 10 a.m.
Troopers from the Maryland State Police barrack in Frederick, including barrack commander Lt. Wayne Wachsmuth, were among the more than 400 state police called to assist in Baltimore since the beginning of the week, and 30 Frederick County sheriff’s deputies deployed to the city at about midnight Monday.
Frederick-based Company A of the Maryland National Guard was also deployed to Baltimore as part of the Guard contingent assigned to the city this week.
City police were in touch with Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and offered to provide assistance Tuesday when a group of deputies deployed to Baltimore, but they were ultimately not needed. City police used a similar strategy employed by the sheriff’s office in pulling officers from the department’s off-duty pool to keep Frederick fully staffed during the deployment, Keckler said.
Keckler said that while it is not clear whether another group of officers will be called on to return to Baltimore in the next few days, plans were in place to meet the need at least through Saturday.
“Friday seems the most likely day that they would need resources, so we’re preparing tentatively for that. ... But we’re not going to send anybody Sunday because we need to be in early that morning to be prepared for the [Frederick] Running Festival,” Keckler said.
A support vehicle from Frederick’s Independent Hose Co. was also sent to the police and National Guard staging area near Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, said Chief Rodney Masser. The fire company’s canteen was stocked with water, snacks and meals for first responders, he said.
“We’ve been told to be prepared to be there through the weekend, so we’ll be doing 12-hour shifts throughout the operational period until they de-escalate,” Masser said. “We took as much as possible with us, then through donations and with other agencies, we’ve been able to receive other supplies to keep us going.”