‘University of Maryland, Baltimore’ Opposes the Elimination of the Baltimore Police Mounted Unit

| July 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Last month, the Baltimore City Council voted to strip Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) Mounted Unit of its $533,735 yearly budget. This move was supported by City Council President Brandon Scott, who recently won the Democratic primary for mayor, and Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he would let the cuts stand. Opposition to this decision is growing in Southwest Baltimore where the Mounted Unit was slated to move into a new $3.5-million facility. The latest to voice its opposition is the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

The Mounted Unit is the oldest continuously-operated mounted unit in the United States. The First Mile Stable was recently constructed as the new home for the Mounted Unit and its six horses. This facility was built on a portion of B&O Railroad Museum’s property in Mount Clare and was funded with private donations and State of Maryland grants.

The First Mile Stable was not only going to be the home of the Mounted Unit, but it was going to serve as a community center for Southwest Baltimore.

B&O Railroad Museum Executive Director Kris A. Hoellen told SouthBMore.com in a statement, “It would be a shame for the City to turn its back on this investment in an area of the City that has seen little investment to date. Most importantly, we believe the work the Mounted Unit does with the community and children is exactly the type of work that is needed.”

District 9 Councilman John Bullock, who represents the area, also opposed the cut. “I do support shifting some [BPD] funds, but I’m am not in support of this,” he said. “Hopefully we can get those funds restored.”

Kintira Barbour, the community engagement liaison for the Mount Clare Community Council, wrote a long statement to SouthBMore.com in opposition to this decision. In the statement she said, “Our community has already built a strong positive relationship with the Mounted Unit Officers and we were looking forward to welcoming them as neighbors. The BPD’s arrival was a unique opportunity to drastically improve police community relations and we’re absolutely heartbroken that this decision was made without our input or consideration of how it would negatively impact our community.”

UMB has its growing UM BioPark campus in nearby Hollins Market and Poppleton. It is also a partner of the Southwest Partnership which is a coalition of seven neighborhood associations and six anchor institutions in Southwest Baltimore.

UMB Interim President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD said in his letter, “I know that Baltimore City leadership has to make tough decisions, especially during these challenging times, but eliminating the BCPD Mounted Unit is a disappointing setback to our efforts to strengthen neighborhoods in Southwest Baltimore.” His letter can be read in its entirety below.

Dear Mayor Young:

As the leader of an anchor institution in and committed to West Baltimore, I was saddened to see that the Baltimore City Council chose to eliminate the Baltimore City Police Department Mounted Unit. The decision affects the newly constructed First Mile Stable in Southwest Baltimore and weakens our efforts to build community.

As you know the Mount Clare community has dealt with underdevelopment and was excited, along with the rest of the Southwest Partnership, for the construction of the First Mile Stable and the arrival of the BCPD Mounted Unit. This new facility would have provided a much-needed recreational and educational outlet for a large youth population in South Baltimore. Furthermore, I believe that stationing the BCPD’s Mounted Unit at First Mile Stable would have provided a unique opportunity not only to drastically improve police community relations within Southwest Baltimore,along with UMB’s Police Activities League (PAL) program, but to show commitment to Mount Clare.

I appreciate the dedication of Baltimore City leadership and that of the many institutions, like UMB, who work together in support of this City. I know that Baltimore City leadership has to make tough decisions, especially during these challenging times, but eliminating the BCPD Mounted Unit is a disappointing setback to our efforts to strengthen neighborhoods in Southwest Baltimore.

I hope that you will consider finding resources to keep the BCPD Mounted Unit at the First Mile Stable.

Sincerely,

Bruce E. Jarrell, MD

Interim President

University of Maryland, Baltimore

SouthBMore.com reached out to Council President Scott and Mayor Young’s communication teams multiple times for comment, but neither team has responded.

Photos of First Mile Stable from March, 2020

Photos courtesy of Kintira Barbour

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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