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Union 'lost all faith' in Baltimore County Police Chief Hyatt, asks County to relieve her of position

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Posted at 10:42 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 11:43:01-04

BALTIMORE COUNTY — The Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 voted Monday evening to request that Police Chief Melissa Hyatt be relieved of her duties.

The vote was unanimous after a meeting at the Holiday Inn in Timonium.

The union sent a list of grievances against Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt in a letter to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, requesting the removal of Hyatt from her current position.

"This was a very difficult decision for the membership, but the motion was unanimous. Morale has never been lower," the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police said on social media.

PAST: Melissa Hyatt's first day as Baltimore County Police chief today

The union said they have "lost all faith and confidence in Melissa Hyatt as the Chief of Baltimore County Police Department."

Here is a list of the specific grievances written out by the union in their letter to Olszewski:

  • "On March 2, 2022, Chief Hyatt while serving on the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission voted in the affirmative to establish a disciplinary process for internal complaints that would have eliminated due process trial boards for police officers in the state of Maryland."
  • "Chief Hyatt’s handling of at least five (5) sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment cases involving members of the Executive Corps. In all cases, the accused continued to work at their assignment without disruption."
  • "Chief Hyatt refuses to take questions at In-service Training. This is the one time per year that officers get to interact with the Chief and have open communication."
  • "Chief Hyatt’s hiring of leaders and directors from outside of Baltimore County has led to a lack of experience and knowledge concerning the history of the agency. For example, there are many errors in calculating pay and overtime. This has led to multiple Fair Labor Standard Act violations that still need to be addressed."
  • "Chief Hyatt’s lack of accessibility to the membership which is demonstrated by the installation of locks and a camera on the Chief’s Office outer suite door and minimal appointment times."
  • "Chief Hyatt is unwilling to deal directly with the FOP leadership to try and address underlying issues."
  • "Chief Hyatt has failed to adequately address the rise in crime in Baltimore County. Citizens groups have voiced safety concerns to the membership of the FOP. One example is the recent increase in violent crime at the Towson Town Center."
  • "Chief Hyatt made the decision to allow the name of Tia Bynum to be read at the Baltimore County Police Memorial Service. Tia Bynum is a disgraced member of [the] department that participated in the kidnapping and murder of two children, as well as the kidnapping and torture of the children’s mother. The act of honoring her at [the department's] memorial was the final blow to the morale of the women and men that serve Baltimore County."

Hyatt was sworn in as Baltimore County's police chief in June 2019.

Before then, Hyatt served with the Baltimore City Police Department for more than 20 years and then as vice president for security at Johns Hopkins University.

Hyatt released this statement in response to the union's vote:

On June 17, 2019, I was sworn in as the 14th Chief of Police for the Baltimore County Police Department. As a lifelong resident of our County, I fully appreciated the responsibility entrusted to me as the Chief of Police.

When I arrived, I quickly discovered that our Department already had a strong foundation and its members were dedicated and hard working law enforcement professionals. I also enjoyed a productive working relationship with the prior union leadership, which included open and frequent communication.

Unfortunately, a small group of my critics from within the current police union leadership have encouraged its members to request my removal from office. While I am disappointed to learn about this effort, I will not be discouraged.

For the past three years, I have had the honor to lead our Police Department and support the extraordinary efforts of our members.

Department members have the opportunity to participate in focus groups, listening sessions, and open forums to provide their feedback. This is in addition to establishing a dedicated police union liaison and an e-mail address that allows for direct communication between any member of the agency and myself.

My work has been, and will continue to be, focused on our commitment to crime reduction, building and maintaining meaningful relationships within the community, increasing accountability, expanding our employee wellness program, and providing the best training and equipment to our members.

I continue to be grateful for the support from the community we serve, our County Executive, and the County Council. Their collective investment in our mission is an integral part of making public safety a priority here in Baltimore County.

It is a challenging time to work in the law enforcement profession. I am extremely proud of the exceptional work that our members do on a daily basis, as we navigate together through unprecedented police reform legislation and a global pandemic.

I remain committed to leading the members of our police department and will not be deterred or distracted from ensuring that we continue to provide the highest level of service to all of the communities throughout Baltimore County.
Melissa Hyatt, Baltimore County Police Chief

County Executive Johnny Olszewski also responded, expressing continued confidence in Hyatt.

“I remain fully confident in Chief Hyatt and her ability to lead the Baltimore County Police Department. Under her leadership, the department has shifted to a more data-driven, community focused model of policing. Violent crime declined by 16 percent last year and homicides are down more than 50 percent so far this year.”