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OF THE STATE'S FOR BALTIMORE
208 THE CLARENCE M. MITCHELL,JR. MARYLAND
November 3, 2009
The Honorable Sheila Dixon Mayor of Baltimore City City Hall-Rom 250 100 N. Holliday Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202 Dear Mayor Dixon: I am writing to thank you for inviting me to join you for the October Gunstat meeting. I want to express my appreciation for the work of the Gunstat team and to let you know that I was disappointed that due to a scheduling conflict I could not attend. I hope to attend another Gunstat soon. Since the meeting, I have had an opportunity to be updated on the current issues. Robbery cases continue to dominate the discussions and I understand that the State's Attorney's Office has offered several suggestions to improve the overall investigation of felony gun cases associated with robberies, armed carjacking, and other gun felonies that are reported from all nine police districts (See Attached). In addition, my staffhas met numerous times with police department officials to discuss the recommendations and possible implementation of the attached memorandum. As was explained, these types of cases are not assigned to a specific specialty detective unit, but rather can be investigated by patrol officers or detectives in the police district and when there is an arrest, the case is forwarded to our felony screeners and felony division for prosecution. As I have said publicly many times, Gunstat provides us with a window of opportunity to get behind the numbers and analyze our gun results, and it is a tool that can help improve these investigations. At this point in time, I have concluded that it would be beneficial to hold a joint workshop with police district commanders and prosecutors from our Felony Division that would provide an excellent opportunity to review the suggestions outlined in the attached documents and offered at the recent Gunstat meeting. Now is the time to act. In order to move forward with this meeting, I have asked Mary Ann Burkhart, Director of Training for the State's Attorney's Office, to contact Commissioner Bealefeld to plan this meeting soon. Additionally, I am requesting an opportunity to present case studies at a future Gunstat meeting, which we can use as ''teachable moments" to assist us
in making better cases. Hopefully, you and I both can attend a Gunstat meeting in January and we can set aside time for a State's Attorney's Office presentation. Thank you for your valuable assistance. Thank you also for all your hard work on behalf of our citizens.
Patricia C. Jessamy (/ State's Attorney for Baltimore City
PCJ :dhjl Attachments Cc:. Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld Sheryl Goldstein, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Margaret Bums, Communications & Governmental Affairs Cynthia Jones, Deputy State's Attorney Larry Doan, Division Chief Spencer Nichols, Gunstat Attachments
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Cynthia Jones, Deputy State's Attorney Lawrence C. Doan, Division Chief General Trial Michelle M. Martin, Assistant State's Attorney A December 5,2008 Suggestions for Improving the Quality of Robbery Cases
At a meeting with Mrs. Jessamy, she asked us to come up with some suggestions that we can convey to the police department to improve the quality of robbery cases. This memorandum delineates the suggestions we propose. 1. Robbery detectives should be assigned and given responsibility to further investigate all robbery cases regardless of whether an arrest was made at the scene by a patrol officer. The robbery detective should attempt to obtain a statement from the suspect, obtain' statements from witnesses, show photo arrays to witnesses, if necessary, and make sure that evidence is properly photographed, processed, seized and submitted to ECU. Investigators should obtain statements, preferably recorded, from witnesses at the time of the offense. These statements should include a detailed description of the suspect(s) and what happened. Investigators should attempt to obtain statements from suspects upon their arrest or very shortly thereafter. The statement should be recorded, written or the defendant should sign the detective's legible, copious notes, in that order of preference. Otherwise the detective should take detailed notes of the defendant's remarks and review them for accuracy. Detectives should also seize or at least photograph the suspect and clothing, if his clothing is relevant to the case (for DNA or description purposes). Investigators should complete information sheets and activity logs for all suspects and witnesses who are brought to the police station.
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Photo arrays should be shown in the presence of at least one other witness, the back of the array should be completed, and the investigator should indicate in writing how long it took for the witness to identify the suspect, who the witness identified, if someone other than the suspect was identified, and what specifically the witness said if no one was identified, i.e., not just "negative array." Vehicles used in robberies or carjackings should be processed before they are released to the owner. This should include photographing the exterior and interior of the vehicle for fingerprints and DNA evidence, and seizing clothing and other property (e.g., blunts, seeds, hats) from which probative DNA evidence might be obtained. Investigators should contact TARU or the SAO to obtain subpoenas for cell phone and cell site records that might be useful to the investigation and prosecution of the case. Detectives should obtain 911 tapes and CAD reports, when relevant. Investigators should obtain search and seizure warrants when it might turn up relevant information, e.g., the fruits of the crime (not currency), the phone that was used to call in the delivery, the gun or ammunition that was used in the robbery, clothing that was worn by the suspects. General Trial supervisors should initiate training of detectives first and later patrol officers regarding the above. If the SAO cannot locate necessary witnesses for PH or trial, the police department should be responsible for assisting in this endeavor. We simply don't have the personnel to review all cases before arrest, but investigators should feel free to call Jen, Michelle, and me to review close cases to determine if other evidence is needed before a warrant is sought. In the unlikely event that none of us is available, they may also consult with any of the felony screeners.
December 9, 2008 10:00 a.m., City Hall Attendees: Cynthia Jones, Major Engel, Michelle Martin, LalTYDoan, GelTYVolatile, Janet Hankin, Lt. Rosenblatt, Samuel Clark, Elizabeth Embry Purpose of the Working Group This working group was convened in response to a review of the outcomes of armed robbery and armed carjacking cases tracked in GunStat. The review showed that 42% of those cases were NP'd or stetted. Additionally, of the GunStat armed robberies and carjackings that resulted in convictions, over 50% of the sentences included two years or less of prison time. GunStat primarily tracks on-view arrests because of the way that the data is captured, meaning that the arrests are made at the time of the incident and are generally made by the responding patrol officer. The working group was asked to examine the reasons that so many cases are not prosecuted or are plead out to minimal jail sentences and make recommendations for better outcomes. Problems Identified by the SAO The overarching problem is that on-view robbery and carjacking cases are insufficiently investigated. These cases are overwhelmingly reliant on victim or witness testimony, which means that corroboration and documentation are essential for success at trial. * Reports written by responding patrol officer are often inadequate with regard to details about the description of the suspect and the manner of identification if there was an area canvas and/or show-up identification, either positive or negative. Additionally, details regarding stolen cellular phones helpful to Lt. Rosenblatt's unit are not being recorded in reports. The clothing of the Defendant is not photographed and/or seized in cases where * the Defendant is located through an area canvas based on a victim/witness description. Detectives though technically assigned to each on-view robbery and carjacking * often do no more than enter the Lotus Notes. Detectives are not taking taped statements of the victims/witness and the Defendant, seeking search and seizure warrants of the Defendant's house, assisting the State's Attorney's Office in writting out Defendants, locating witnesses and victims for trial, and locating evidence such as photo arrays. Cars stolen in carjackings are returned to their owners without being processed. * The SAO is not consistently able to obtain 911 tapes * Recommendations Prioritize robberies and carjacking that involve a firearm. DDU caseloads are very large and make it difficult for the detectives to give sufficient attention to every case. However, regardless of the caseload, robberies and carjackings that involve a firearm, whether on-view or not, should receive the priority treatment that shootings receive. Basic casework such as defendant debriefmg with an attempt to obtain a taped statement, taped victim and witness statements for Nance-Hardy substantive evidence purposes, S&S warrants of the Defendant's house, and photo arrays where appropriate should be standard in all robberies and carjackings involving a
firearm. Detectives should request 911 tapes as a matter of course. Detectives should be responsible for maintaining a complete case file and providing this evidence to the SAO not the patrol officer who made the arrest. Detectives should be available to locate victims and witnesses at the preliminary hearing stage and for trial. Given the DDU caseloads, it may be wise to have a unit devoted to witness/victim location. The SAO felony supervisors should have a DDU point person to contact who can ensure accountability from the detectives. The SAO should assist the Police Department in training DDU detectives and patrol officers, Larry Doan and Michelle Martin will attend the Tuesday's DDU supervisor's meeting at the Northern District. Cynthia Jones will coordinate with Major Engel about SAO training at the next 1ST for all DDU detectives. Training of patrol officers is also needed. If these recommendations are adopted, GunStat should ask the members of this working group to report in four/six months as to whether these changes have been implemented and whether there are improved case outcomes.
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