Baltimore Police use padlock law to shut down troubled business

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 21, 2016

Sixteen crimes in two years – mostly violent, including two murders – were all traced to the BP gas station in at Forest Park Avenue and Windsor Mill in Southwest Baltimore.

On Monday, the city shut it down, boarded it up and threw a padlock on the business.

"It became very clear to the commissioner and his team that the padlock is the right tool at the right time," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The police were never more convinced than after a January drug deal inside that gas station.

In surveillance video, you can see a hand to hand deal followed by a police squad car pulling up.

But then, one suspect is seen putting his gun into the turnstile window.

Then the clerk spun it around, pulled out the loaded gun and hid it behind the counter as police entered to make arrests.

Not only did that video show investigators the business was complicit in crime, but it also shows just how dangerous the operation was.

"When you have gun toting drug dealers to take over this gas station as if it is their sovereign piece of property it is our responsibility to take action," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

But police just can't go around shutting down businesses.

The commissioner used the padlock law, which allows police to close a troubled business like this.

The mayor called it a tool in the law enforcement tool box, but the city hasn't used it in six years.

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Back then former commissioner Fred Bealefeld used it to shut down at least three businesses in 2009.

It is a tool this commissioner says he will re-sharpen and use when necessary.

"I've got some significant experience using this elsewhere in Maryland and it is an effective tool to padlock a business that is a detriment to a community and it is something we won’t hesitate to do in the future," Davis said.

Police say they are already working with the owner of the property, Carroll Fuel, to develop new management and a better security plan.

The goal is to reopen a business that better serves that community. 

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