Morgan State University Police Demand Change, Denounce Chief
The department’s union said recent campus shootings “underscore the urgency of a thorough reevaluation of our current approach.”
BALTIMORE — Morgan State University police officers are demanding comprehensive departmental change following the Oct. 3 campus shooting that left five people injured.
The same day President David Wilson announced several new safety protocols to improve security, the MSU Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 142 sent a letter to campus leadership detailing frustrations and a lack of confidence in Chief Lance Hatcher. The 11-page letter focuses on the Oct. 3 shooting, as well as several other campus shootings that occurred in recent years.
In 2021, an 18-year-old Morgan State student was shot in the chest as the Homecoming football game was ending. In 2022, a 20-year-old man was shot during an unsanctioned Homecoming party. The person was not a Morgan State student. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital and survived. Also in 2022, an MSU security officer was fatally shot near an off-campus apartment building.
“The third shooting at Morgan State Homecoming in as many years, with an additional fourth in the nearby off-campus housing, underscores the urgency of a thorough reevaluation of our current approach,” the union wrote. “Despite our previous efforts to resolve these issues by working with Chief Hatcher, his Command Staff, and Human Resources, our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Now, we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of having to elevate these issues in the wake of our campus community trying to heal.”
The letter outlines various areas of concern, including inadequate staffing, failure to equip officers for duty, questionable decision-making by Hatcher and his command staff, failure to provide officers with critical access to campus areas, disregard for officer well-being, failure to provide critical information to officers, creation of a hostile work environment, and blatant violations of labor laws.
The letter said Hatcher claims he has over 60 sworn officers, which the union calls a “misrepresentation of staffing levels” because that number includes unarmed officers who “often defer to campus police to handle emergent and non-emergent issues around campus.”
The union said the department only has 34 sworn officers, including four in the command staff who do not go out on patrol, two who are part of a criminal investigation division and only respond to a certain level of crisis, and one who is the assigned quarter master and does not respond to any issues on campus.
The letter also alleges the department does not have adequate equipment, including police vehicles, to respond to incidents. It says there are only four active vehicles available for patrol officers and two of them are in “constant need of maintenance.” The union claims the lack of available vehicles for officers created a “challenging situation” during the Oct. 3 incident, noting some officers were “compelled to cram into another responding officer’s patrol vehicle.” It also claims officers had to use makeshift tourniquets to help gunshot victims following the shooting and counseling has not been offered to responding officers.
Emergency communication is also lacking, the union members allege, writing, “The absence of radio access for MSUPD patrol officers to Baltimore City police and other local agencies proved to be a significant obstacle to coordinating responses effectively in real time.”
Morgan State officials claim the concerns have only just been brought to their attention and that they are committed to a “full investigation” of the allegations.
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