Commissioner Bishop L. Robinson
In a 2003 Sun Paper article written by Gregory Kane, Mr. Kane tells a story of a Ms. Carole Todd, the head of Baltimore's Carver Vocational-Technical High School and how she slipped on a Black Robe, and became Judge Todd. As the Honorable Judge... Todd, started her closing arguments to the high court of the Martin's West Regency Ballroom, Judge Todd, slammed her gavel to gain the courts attention as she began reading the verdict. On the charge of being a public servant for more than 50 years, the court finds you guilty,
For serving as the State's Public Safety Commissioner, Guilty
For making significant improvements to Baltimore' Central Booking, intake center, initiating an alternative-to-prison program, bringing in a prison Chaplin's program, and for his sharp, crisp attire, and "for being down right good looking. Judge Todd found Baltimore Police Department's Bishop - Guilty on all counts
Closing her opening statement's with, "I have never seen a case in which the evidence was more compelling."
The purpose of this Regency Ballroom mock trial was to Honor Commissioner Robinson, who in 1984 became Baltimore's first black Police Commissioner.
To show how well BPD's Bishop was thought of around town, we should consider the following, the list of those that came to pay homage. There was State's Attorney Pat Jessamy, who took good-natured jabs, about her being seen with so many police because she doesn't have the best reputation as being police a friendly State Attorney. Del. Emmett Burns, was in the room, as were Ex-Governors, Marvin Mandel and William Donald Shaffer. Also in the crowd, was City Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young and judge/city solicitor George Russel. House Mosley, the man who should have been appointed Baltimore's Superintendent of schools 10 years ago. Sen Clarence Mitchel the 4th, and Kevin Clark, Baltimore Current Police Commissioner at that time.
The City College contingents former Mayor Kurt Schmoke, retired Baltimore Police Colonel Barry Powel, and former Commissioner Leonard Hamm. Retired Major Wendell Pete France. Baltimore Colt great, Lenny Moore, and Lt Governor, Michael Steele. Steele identified with Commissioner Robinson, as Steele was first African American Lt Governor as he presented Commissioner Robinson with a proclamation from Governor Robert Ehrlich, another first was achieved; It was the first such honor the Lieutenant Governor had handed out.
There were tons of others in attendance. All coming for his or her own reason, and there had to be more than two dozen anecdotes about Robinson to illustrate why they came to his big night. Here is one such story,
In the early 1980's while Donald Pomerleau, known in most circles as, "That Horrible Man," was commissioner for the Baltimore Police department. And riding roughshod over the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, an off-duty police officer was in an East Baltimore greasy spoon when he became convinced a black youth who had entered the place was casing it for a robbery. The officer shot the kid several times as the kid pulled a metal object from his pocket. It ended up that the object was not a gun, but a lighter.
It became yet another public relations nightmare for the Commissioner at the time, and Pomerleau, who had served in his role as Commissioner since 1966. A community forum was held by city residents all agreed that the youth had been shot. Organizers demanded the commissioner attend and give answers; Pomerleau didn't have answers they wanted and as such he did not give them the time with him that they had requested, instead he sent then Colonel Bishop Robinson. There was a lot of anger, and heated questions and arguing, the Bishop was abused, cursed out, excoriated, and called everything but the child of our Father in heaven. The writer of this article, Mr. Kane, said, he was surprised, no one worked in a Your Momma insult, as nothing was off limits. And while most would have been angry, or intimidated, sweating it with no words to offer in return, the Bishop took it all in stride, with a coolness, a grace and elegance of style formally not seen from the police department's top brass.
"Boy, I want to be like him when I grow up," was all I could think said Kane a sun reporter that penned the general idea of this article.
As luck would have it, it was the Bishop that questioned the officer that took off after the kid he felt was about to rob that store. Some said he was Trigger Happy, others knew he was having a bite to eat, and thought he was witnessing a robbery about to happen, he thought he was helping, But one wouldn't have guessed he had ever worn a badge the way he was interrogated by then Colonel Robinson, in the end the Bishop didn't like his answers, the kid survived and the Bishop told the Officer it was time he turn in his Gun and Badge and find a new line of work as he was fired. Robinson having sided with the crowd, having fired the officer whom he felt over stepped his bounds of being a police officer, pointing out police are not to predict robberies, act on a gut feeling, instead they are to take notes, call in suspicious activities, and get the best description possible so when the active on duty police arrive, the off-duty officer can give them the best info possible. The off-duty officer should not take police action unless it is a crime in progress and action is a last resort. Still Robinson took one for the Baltimore Police team, at that forum, and proved to those above him that he had what it takes to sit in the main set, as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department. On the night of this dinner the Bishop was rewarded and honored for the service he gave to the city of Biltmore and state of Maryland.
In 2003 the New headquarters Annex Building was named after the Commissioner, an honor the retired commissioner was proud of, once saying every time he passes the building he looks up to see if his name is still there.
After Pomerleau's departure, in 1981, Frank J. Battaglia took that lead spot where he would remain from 1981-1984. In 1984 The Bishop took his turn in the seat as leader of the Baltimore Police department where he would remain until 1987.
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