Maryland law enforcement has officially implemented a boater safety plan in response to the rising number of serious injuries and fatalities on the hundreds of state waterways. The plan, entitled Operation Dry Water, is actually a national initiative, which was created to raise awareness and enforcement of incidents of boating under the influence or BUI. According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, nearly 17 percent of all boating fatalities are caused by alcohol use. Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies decided to adopt the national initiative after a recent three year spike in waterway deaths. In 2011 there were 24 Maryland waterway fatalities and last year there were 11, which is double the 10 year state average.
June 2013 Archives
Police in Calvert County have announced an arrest in a three month long drug dealing investigation, which concluded last week. The suspect, a 28 year old man hailing from Scotland, Maryland, was arrested on three controlled substance violations including misdemeanor heroin possession, felony possession with intent to distribute, and CDS possession of a large amount. The man was released a few days after being taken into custody on a $75,000 bail. His case is now set for a preliminary hearing in Calvert County District Court on July 12th, but the case will undoubtedly be sent to Circuit Court for disposition.
County police began investigating the man back in March, and used a variety of sources during the course of the investigation. Perhaps the biggest break in the case came when state troopers arrested a different man on a drug violation, and then obtained a search warrant for his phone. Police found numerous text messages between the two men, which discussed potential sales and other drug information. Confidential informants were also used by police to gather information about the 28-year-old man, who was widely believed to have been one of Southern Maryland's largest heroin dealers. The informants also allegedly told police that the man is known for carrying a firearm to and from trips to his own supplier. This information led police to begin surveillance on the alleged dealer, which was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Calvert Police. On the day of the arrest, the DEU followed the man has he allegedly made numerous stops at houses of suspected heroin buyers, and also observed the man engage in a hand to hand transaction with two individuals in an SUV. Calvert County Police and Sheriffs then conducted a traffic stop on the man where they located approximately 100 grams of heroin in the engine compartment of the vehicle, and numerous bundles of cash.
The Blog has posted numerous articles on the recent steps taken by the state legislature to lower the maximum punishments for possession of marijuana, and to partially legalize the drug for medical use. We have also posted about more progressive bills introduced by Baltimore area politicians, which received a great deal of support in Annapolis despite never crossing the governor's desk. Senator Zirkin and Representative Morhaim both proposed legislation designed to decriminalize the personal use of marijuana in this year's legislative session. The movement is gathering steam, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the actual data. The fact is that arrests and criminal prosecutions for pot possession are on the rise in Maryland despite the efforts of lawmakers to curb these docket clogging cases. And perhaps the most staggering data is not the rising arrest numbers, but the fact that our state has per capita the third most marijuana possession arrests in the entire country. Closer inspection of the 2010 data reveals that Worcester County has the highest pot arrest numbers in the country for a county with a population over 30,000. This number is no doubt influenced by the obscene amount of Ocean City marijuana arrest during the summer months when the city doubles its police force by hiring truckloads of 21-year-old part time cops. But the highest per capita rate in the country? For a state that is moving toward decriminalization this is indeed shocking.
More than a year ago the Maryland Court of Appeals threw out Alonzo King's rape conviction after ruling that police had illegally seized his DNA sample. Mr. King was arrested on an unrelated assault charge in 2009 and his DNA was collected under authority of a state law, which allowed cops to collect such samples from anyone arrested for a serious offense. This sample was fed into an FBI cold case database several months later and it matched an unidentified sample taken from the scene of a 2003 rape. Arrest and prosecution followed soon thereafter, and Mr. King suffered the same fate that most defendants do when trying to fight a case with inclulpatory DNA evidence, as he was found guilty and later sentenced to life in prison. Shortly after the Court of Appeals vacated King's guilty plea the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on a writ of certiorari. During the past year Mr. King, and to a lesser extent state law enforcement officers, Governor O'Malley, Attorney General Gansler, and anyone with direct or indirect concerns about our civil liberties have been on edge waiting to hear from the Court, and as of this week the wait is over.
In a five to four decision the Supreme Court ruled that the Maryland DNA statute does not violate our Fourth Amendment rights, and law enforcement officials are free to sample the DNA of anyone arrested for a serious crime. The majority opined that an arrestee's expectation of privacy is not offended by the minor intrusion of a brief swab of his cheeks, and by contrast the government has a significant interest in identifying the arrestee. The government, according to majority, must be able to accurately identify the arrestee so that the proper name can be attached to his charges, and also so the criminal justice system can make a fully informed decision about the arrestee's pretrial custody status, i.e. the amount of his bail. The majority then compared DNA sampling to photographing, and the universally accepted, although never by Supreme Court opinion, practice of fingerprinting. The four dissenting Justices deferred to Justice Scalia to pen the dissent, which explained and discarded the majority's 28-page opinion in 18 pages so brilliant that it was actually easy reading. Needless to say if you don't have time to read both, start your reading after the words "it is so ordered".
Just two months ago the Blog posted an article about a police officer that was indicted on federal drug conspiracy and robbery charges. That particular officer, a 36-year-old man, will learn his fate at a June 11th sentencing hearing in federal court, and the embarrassing stain of his arrest and prosecution is still fresh on the minds of top cops at the Baltimore City Police Department. But Maryland's largest police department now faces yet another scandal involving a crooked officer. The United States Attorney's Office recently announced the filing of criminal charges and the subsequent arrest of a 25-year-old female police officer that hails from Pikesville. The criminal complaint alleges that the woman stood watch in her marked patrol car while a supposed drug dealer completed a heroin sale at a Baltimore area shopping center. The woman also allegedly provided the supposed drug dealer with information about the identity of police informants, which she obtained from department databases. Unfortunately for the soon to be ex-cop, the supposed drug dealer was actually an informant working with the FBI, and the entire transaction is now the basis for a variety of serious felony charges filed against her.