Salvage Boondoggle Detailed in Baltimore Police Suit

In a 2017 Facebook album, the Baltimore Police Department’s marine unit included this image of its efforts to salvage a ship called the Danger Zone.

BALTIMORE (CN) – Tying a bow on an otherwise cringeworthy year at the Baltimore Police Department, an officer with the marine unit brought a federal complaint detailing waste in a months-long salvage operation.

The lawsuit by 18-year veteran officer Jeffry Taylor was filed on Dec. 28, about a week after the department’s former commissioner pleaded guilty to tax crimes. The department, which is operating under a federal consent decree aimed at curbing racism and brutality, has had three commissioners in the past year and is awaiting the City Council’s approval of a new one. 

In an email, a police spokesman called it unlikely that they would have a response to Taylor’s lawsuit.

Taylor was with the seven-man marine unit for about 18 months when, according to the complaint, their sergeant ordered a salvage operation in November 2016 of an abandoned cabin cruiser called “Danger Zone.” 

He says he quickly observed that the job would exceed the team’s authority and abilities, but that the brass ignored his advice to let commercial salvage operators handle the job. 

In contrast to the celebratory album dedicated to the operation on the marine unit’s Facebook page, Taylor’s lawsuit paints a picture of waste and failure. 

He says it involved pollution to the harbor and excessive overtime, all while diverting 12 officers, two boats and a helicopter from their normal duties.

Taylor says his complaints about the operation quickly led to him facing being “ostracized, threatened, teased and subjected to severe and pervasive harassment and retaliation.”

The lawsuit is reminiscent of claims that the BPD faced from Detective Joe Crystal, who found a dead rat under his car’s windshield wiper after reporting that a sergeant and fellow officer had assaulted a drug suspect.

Last year, nine city cops were convicted in a federal corruption case for robbing drug dealers and stealing overtime — the latter practice revealed to be a common motivational tool used by commanders.

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