Lt. Jerry DeManss
Photo Courtesy of Lt. Gerard G. DeManss
September 19, 1992
Lt. Jerry DeManss
I, guess it's time, now that he has been retired going on two years, to put a few words together for posterity about his career as a Baltimore police officer. We'll do this for his son Christopher, his family both at home and on the job, so they have some idea of his career as a Baltimore Police Officer. This endeavor was also prompted by the extensive genealogical research being performed by his sisters on their family name. Now they are expecting him, their only brother, who they heard so much about from others, to offer something on the altar of knowledge. He never told them much of what he did, and it was by design, so as not to alarm and or shock them. As he now instructs new police officers for the Maryland Police Corp on what to tell family, friends and spouses about something truly heinous that happens at work, that, if they must tell, tell very generally what happened, never giving the gory specifics. Mothers will cry, fathers will stare coldly at you for making them cry, and the spouses will, well..., find other spouses in a less dangerous profession. Police work can be that bad. Like many of our fathers, Jerry’s dad also told him, “If you want to be loved, become a fireman!” This story is as complete as Jerry could remember, and in recalling the events, the good and bad, all have dimmed by time. This will be a daunting task, but a task worth the undertaking, so we will work to write and re-write everything. An effort will be made to omit instances, and there are so many, where a living person may be hurt or embarrassed. Insensitivity may be detected at times in these lines, but it is a necessary reality that police officers engage in compensating behaviours, and they rationalize constantly. To be able to dull the scenes encountered daily on the violent streets of Baltimore, or any other urban area, to do their job, hopefully to a point of retirement, we sometimes develop gallows humor in order to cope. This account is of an ordinary person in sometimes-extraordinary circumstances. To his brothers and sisters in blue these events will feel similar, as they are part crime fighting, and part survival.
It is the wish of every police officer to be recognized and remembered for his or her accomplishments. Be it commendations, or medals, a promotion, some faded news articles about some feat of courage or dangerous criminal(s) brought to justice or just the relief of making it to retirement; this is what a police officer cherishes most. Look at any uniformed police officer's chest at the multi-colored ribbons and you see the pride in his walk and straightforward gaze in his eyes at the problems ahead, as he patrols his turf, twirling his Espantoon (nightstick), It is truly a sight, and memory to behold. To be a part of an organization whose very existence calls for community service, protection of the weak, the old, the young, the infirm and the powerless. A job to incarcerate society's lawbreakers, is one of the life's noblest professions; a profession which Jerry would gladly risk his life for, again and again. He was able to have adventures and have positive influences on the welfare of Baltimore City. It was a wonderful combination. He got a taste of the "mean streets" of Baltimore when he volunteered for service while in college as an auxiliary fire-fighter. It was an unpaid position, offered to CCB (Community College of Baltimore) by the Baltimore Fire Department, to learn about fire-fighting and maybe get a few fire-fighters with some college education in return. He could have some action and volunteer his services to the City. He trained at the Baltimore Fire Academy on Pulaski Highway for three months under Fire Captain James, and requested to work with his uncle, Captain Joseph Mirable, at his station at Truck #15 in the l200 blk. Montford Ave. The year "1968” was a wild time in Baltimore. Crime was on the rise, fire calls increased and truck #15 was one of the fire apparatus in Baltimore City leading fire calls. They rolled all the time. Going to college in the day and fighting fires at night. Hooked in a strap on the rear of the hook and ladder as it sped to a fire, hanging next to the tiller man (person who steers the rear of the truck because of its great length) was Jerry’s kind of youthful fun. One of his first "role models" was Fire-fighter Robert "Bob" Beauford. Bob was the Baltimore Fire Department's fire-fighter of the year in 1969 and admired very much by Jerry for it. An African-American who saw in Jerry the hope of a new generation of college kids who wanted to help society. He encouraged him to be the best at what he did. Much like the lessons that his father gave, but it was encouraging and very impressionable when it came from Bob. They would talk for many hours on fire scenes and at the station. His exuberance was unbounded. On his first fire call the gong sounded and he rushed beside his place on the truck and jumped in his boots as his uncle slid down the pole. His uncle unhooked the engine warmer line and tossed it to the side and it landed over Jerry’s turnout coat as he was putting it on, he didn't see it. He grabbed hold of his perch and, the fire truck, with lights and sirens on, pulled out of the station. As Truck # 15 turned north the engine warmer line stuck inside his coat was pulled to its limit and yanked him from the side of the truck. He fell, and he fell hard, landing on his back to the pavement below. Looking up, he saw the surprised face of the tiller man as he shot by. He called over the intercom to stop the truck, as he did Jerry disengaged the wire and climbed back on the truck. The fire-fighters were laughing all the way to the fire. Bobby Beaufort, the driver even had to stop the truck because he was laughing so hard. A hell of a way to gain acceptance!
Jerry had no fear of heights, and loved venting burning row homes, and the occasional climb to the top of the aerial ladder to activate the fire cannon. What a sight being 100 feet in the air over a large fire, like a marshmallow, they were toasted by the fire, as they directed the water flow onto the fire below them. An interesting thing happened that opened his eyes to the reality of what was happening in our country at the time. They were sent on a fire call in the 1200 blk. Greenmount Ave. It turned out to be the "Black Panther” Headquarters in Baltimore. The furnace had caught on fire and upon their arrival they had to forcibly restrain the "Panthers”, who were taking equipment from the fire truck to fight the fire themselves. They attempted this so the fire-fighters were not able to go inside their Headquarters Building. A person exited this dwelling with heavy cloth bags in his hands and ran down the street. The police were called. Jerry went upstairs to the 2nd floor and observed automatic weapons lying against the wall near the windows. It dawned on him how dangerous this "fire”, was becoming. He went down stairs and summoned a police officer, who was standing by his car watching the fire and told him what was observed upstairs. Police and sirens came from everywhere, and he later learned the officer he went to was a popular officer, an officer that went on to become a Police Commissioner for the department. But that night he was dancing in the street, and fighting the Panthers. The next day at the UMBC the Panthers showed up on campus at the cafeteria begging for money they say was stolen from their headquarters by police and fire-fighters. Jerry stood, challenging them, he pointed to the individual he had seen running from the building the cloth bags. They were all so shocked that they started stuttering and in an offhanded manner, accused Jerry of stealing the money as an agent of the racist United States Government. Jerry became a marked man on campus. The constant negative news fed to everyone about the country on campus by anti war, black panthers, environmentalists, et cetera, that Jerry, at one time, believed, were now, held in suspicion. Looking back, they were no more than half-truths fed to the gullible college population for their own advancement.
This incident opened Jerry’s eyes to never believing an issue until he looked at from both sides with all the information he could obtain. He revealed that they were shocked that a Lilly-white liberal college student was on their turf. It certainly wouldn't be the last time. About this time sitting at home with a friend, Butch Jensen, watching television when they heard a woman screaming out in front of their house on 33rd St. They ran out and she told them that, "that man running" had just robbed her of her purse. She also cried that he had a gun. Butch and Jerry pursued the man across the Eastern High School parking lot, and we were gaining on him when suddenly he stopped, turned around and began firing on them. The bullets whizzed by their heads. A peculiar sound. But a sound he would hear quite a few times during his career. That day the two of them hit the dirt. The chase was over, and the robber got away, running across Loch Raven Rd. into the City College grounds. The police came and took a report. Little did Jerry know at the time that this was a small microcosm of what he would do with his life?
Now, fresh out of college with a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland, he expected to be drafted into the service because of the war in Vietnam. If he had to go, he would go. No running to Canada as some did. At his induction station at Fort Holabird in southeast Baltimore an Army Captain noticed that his left shoulder drooped at the X-ray machine and he came to the snap conclusion that Jerry suffered from a birth deformity in which his left shoulder didn't drop to its normal position. By now Jerry had tried to explain that it was a football injury when a corpsman kicked him in the shin and told him to "shut up". He took him to a room and explained the horrors he had seen in Vietnam and that he was crazy to try to straighten out the 4F (unfit for service). He guessed he wasn't ready to go to Vietnam and fight after all.
All that summer (1971) He tried to find a job that he would enjoy. His father also advised him that it was time to work, or hit the road. He drove to Washington, DC and tested at the Federal Customs Service but it entailed travel to the west coast and he was not ready to move out there by himself. His friend, Bill Miller, who was a probation officer at the time, convinced him to put in an application with the Baltimore Police Department, he presented himself at the old Police Headquarters Building at Fallsway and Fayette Sts. took the battery of police tests and passed. His physical (given very quickly; they needed the bodies) and background checks were completed, and so, on August 9, 1971, Jerry, was standing in City Hall with other "recruits", raising their right hands and swearing an oath to uphold the laws of the Country, State and City. He then began working in the Planning and Research Division, filing reports and pinning the crime maps until his academy class commenced. Officer Walter Heuer of P&R was his first encounter with a real life police officer. He was down to earth, laughed a lot, told funny stories and wasn't at all the stereotypical police officer Jerry expected from watching TV. Maybe the job was like "Car 54, Where are you?" and not "Dragnet".
His Academy class #71-7 (the Seventh academy class of 1971) began in September. He remembers sitting for long boring hours in class taking notes on the law, patrol techniques and report writing, but it was at the firing range that he really excelled and began to love the job. He had never fired a weapon in his life growing up in the city, but it wasn't a problem. Frank Trapasso, the range instructor, made it so easy. Just follow the five steps of 1) stance, 2) sight alignment, 3) grip, 4) breath and 5) trigger control and presto! Scores of 100 came right out of the barrel at 1000 fps. This is easy. He even enjoyed the smell of Hoppe solvent. For the life of him, he never understood why so many police hated their yearly qualification at the range. They never mastered the basics, or were trained wrong or developed bad habits over the years. Having seen men, and women police officers shake at the thought of having to qualify at the range. He didn't know at the time it was probably DT's or Loss of Sight. If you didn't shoot at least a 70, you had your police powers suspended and revolver taken away. He found his passion. He could do this forever, or so it seemed. He fired over 25,000 rounds in his career, but more on that later. As the class got closer and closer to graduation, their uniforms turned from kaki, to blue. A blue steel Smith and Wesson, .38 cal. revolver adorned his side, and they were going to work the streets. His first day almost became his last. He was working with a Tactical Officer named Roth and nearing the end of the shift they were called to a riot at Carver High School. The riot started at their football game. When they arrived the new police helicopter was on the ground beside the football field and a police major was lying next to it, moaning on the ground. It seemed that the major was flying in the helicopters AO seat over the riot on the field when some miscreant propelled a 1/2 brick, 50feet in the air through the window of the helicopter and struck him on his head. They then donned their riot helmets, but the trainees were not issued gas masks. When the gas was thrown on the field to dispense the fighting crowd Jerry got his first dose (and far from the last) of CS gas, he was blinded. Tears streamed down his face. From the back of the crowd a brick was thrown toward the police line, and hit Jerry square on his helmet's mask, cracking the hard plastic. He never saw it coming. He didn't have his mask down or his face would have been crushed. Anger raged through him and when they were turned loose to disperse the crowd, well, simply put, they were dispersed. He struck more people that day with his brand new Espantoon, than he did during his entire 28 years on the force. Hell of a first day on the street! Naturally his veteran partners (who had a gas masks) advised him afterwards that this happens every day on the job? Ha-Ha. The next day one of the local papers reported a minor fracas at the Carver football game buried on the back page. It reported that some arrests were made. Jerry thought. "That's all!". What about "This happening, and That happening!" He learned then, that what you read in the papers, never truly tells us; “What really happened!" In Jerry's academy class was Officer Marty Ward, a funny, and outgoing person who became Jerry’s friend. They always exchanged experiences throughout their different assignments. Marty entered C.I.D. Narcotics, and teamed up with the Federal Drug Task Force, doing undercover drug work. Jerry saw him walking out of the Federal Building one day. The two stopped to talk, and he told Jerry what he was doing. They shook hands and began to part when Jerry reiterated the dangers of deep undercover drug work and asked his friend to be careful. He shook his head and laughed with that laugh only Marty could give us. One month later Marty was dead. Two bullet holes square in his chest. When Jerry heard about his friend and classmate, his body was already moved to the Penn St. morgue. Jerry had to see him one last time. Lying on a gurney in a cold room, Jerry found him. The most sorry “O shit!” look on his face, Jerry couldn't help it, as tears welled in his eyes, and rolled down his face. Christmas music played over the morgues intercom system, causing a loathing for Christmas music in Jerry’s life from then on.
Sergeant William Jackson was Jerry’s academy class advisor. He was a D.I. in the service and made an impression on Jerry with his bearing. You didn't mess, or kid around with Sergeant Jackson. He disliked college graduates. He worked in the Northern District prior to the academy and had dealt with college students from Hopkins University. He always said that the college experience expanded their minds greatly while on LSD, especially after they jumped or fell three stories to the concrete below. When it came to assigning them to the Districts Sgt Jackson pulled Jerry aside, grinned and told him he was sending him to the Western District. He said it was a good place for a college boy to get his start. He didn't know it at the time but he was doing Jerry a favor. Graduation was at the War Memorial Building. It felt like being in a church, and Jerry was glad it was over. He was now a real police officer. After meeting with his first commander, a Captain, who went on and on lamenting the high preventable accident rate in his district, Jerry was assigned to Sector #3, 12x8 shift (midnights). His Sergeant handed him the keys to 731 's radio car, and Jerry was eagerly searching the lot for it when a drunken man in tattered clothes tumbled onto the lot from Mount St. with his pockets ripped out, smelling of alcohol, and screaming that he had been robbed. Jerry put down his new departmental issue briefcase, that he filled to the brim with blank MI crime reports, general orders, a flashlight, chalk, and his lunch to help the man when Communications dispatched a Signal #13 (Officer needs assistance) and the whole shift of 15 police sector cars, and 2 patrol wagons drove unceremoniously over, and through Jerry's briefcase.
The squad Jerry was assigned was composed of 20+ year veterans who took a dim view of the “Rook" putting 100 miles a shift, on his run sheet, while they were only putting 30 miles on their run sheets, and they mainly achieved their mileage by jacking up the rears of their cars, and running the motors on a parking lot away from the station. They would then go to sleep with the dead in a nearby cemetery (After all it was the midnight shift). It wasn't long before Jerry was assigned to the Operations Foot Squad. He was probably the only foot officer in the history of American policing whom his Captain said would be sent back to motorized patrol for preventable foot patrol accidents. One time, he was running with a full head of steam to a Signal #13 call when he turned a corner and bowled over a citizen. Later, at Provident Hospital he begged forgiveness from the poor man who way laying there moaning in pain with two broken ribs. That was one difficult report to write. It would soon get much harder. While patrolling his post on foot at Pennsylvania and Fulton Aves. you guessed it, another Signal #13 was broadcast a block south of his location. At the time everyone had just been assigned the new HT 200 radios that had the mike fastened to the shoulder strap and he was running with his hand on the mike advising Communications that he was responding. He didn't see the scaffolding next to the Purple Heart Center until it was too late. Four painters were at work on the top the scaffolding as he lost balance and crashed into it, knocking down three stories of scaffolding, leaving four screaming painters holding on the roof edge for dear life. Paint was everywhere and true to his sworn oath he rushed to the corner to assist the police officer in his arrest. Later, at the station house, behind the Captain’s closed doors, Jerry bowed his head reverently as he heard the Captain yelling, “DeeMaaaannnnnsss Yooooomuuuuttttherrrfuckerrrrrr!!!!!”
But he gained a certain amount of respect on his post afterwards. All the African American businessmen thought it was the funniest thing they ever saw occur on the Avenue. A "not so funny" incident occurred while patrolling "the Avenue" (Pennsylvania Avenue, that is!) He had just finished eating fried rice, and opened a fortune cookie that read, "Lay low". That's all it said. Jerry immediately got a sick feeling in his stomach and it wasn't from the greasy fried rice. He started walking north in the 2700 blk. Pennsylvania Ave. when a woman ran from Red Fox Liquors screaming. Rushing into the store to see what the excitement was all about, put him face to face with a shotgun pointed at him. All he remembers now was a loud explosion, flame, and glass breaking besides him. The force of the blast and the reaction of pushing hard to the rear knocked him through the door as he tumbled down the steps. He lay in shock with blood on his neck, and crawled slowly to cover. Lucky for him the robbers quickly exited the store through a side door unto Reisterstown Rd. and got away. A week later a police officer (Lorenzo Gray) was killed in a robbery on Route 40 at the Holliday Inn. Bill Miller, Jerry’s friend, who was now working as a federal narcotics agent (BNDD) was on surveillance at this hotel when the robbery occurred. He assisted in the arrest of the two suspects who shot the police officer. Detectives told Jerry that it was a good probability that this hold up team robbed Fox's the week before. Jerry never felt so bad in his life. He should have looked inside first, saw what was happening and called for police back-up. Maybe the tragedy would have turned out differently? He now impresses this on trainees, and pays more attention to fortune cookie messages.
Once having made an arrest for an arson, we had 12 female jurors hearing the witness's testimony and then Jerry’s. A female witness calmly described to the jury the orgy she was engaged before the fire started. She went on explaining that "he did this to her, and she did this to them and so forth. The juror faces were turning crimson. Finally, she stated in her own words the suspect's reason for starting the fire, he was an orgy participant, and started the fire, because his "temperature wouldn't rise" during the orgy. The defence attorney saw a chance to confuse the state’s main witness and asked her in a loud voice what she meant about his temperature not raising. With all 12 female jurors leaning their heads and faces bright red, ready to hear her response, the female witness screamed, "Because his Private wouldn't get harddddd!" All the female jurors swooned and moaned. The courtroom erupted in laughter, the judge frowned, as the fire investigator who worked the case with Jerry leaned over and said, "don't you just love'em".
The Western District reputation as a wild place is not undeserved. Some called it, "The Wild Wild West" Jerry once got a call at night for a shooting, he responded and located an individual with a serious leg wound. He was helping the ambulance driver place the individual on a stretcher and place him in the ambulance when more gunfire erupted. Bullets were hitting the side ambulance, whizzing by their heads, and some even struck his radio car. Jerry dove toward the police car, grabbed the console's radio mike, and climbed under the car with it. As the ambulance sped away, the rear doors broke open and the body cart-wheeled to the pavement. The ambulance drove on, never to return.
Fearing that an officer might be shot, Jerry’s Lieutenant ordered everyone out of the area "We'll find the bodies in the morning", he shouted as everyone left, and Jerry placed the victim on the floor of his police car to get him to the hospital. Sure enough, three more bodies were found when the sun came up. During this time tensions were rising at the District. Officers were arguing in the halls. Threats were heard. Why was a certain sergeant going around the station house, wearing a winter reefer (coat) in the hot summer? Jerry didn't know it at the time but the Feds and our Internal Affairs Division were investigating the Western police taking bribes to cover a gambling location located above North Ave. That certain Sergeant was wearing a tape machine to get incriminating statements from other supervisors and officers to assist him in getting immunity from prosecution. When it was over many supervisors were arrested and charged. Some received jail time. Later, this certain Sergeant passed away, and Jerry was told that a whole shift of police officers defecated, and urinated on his grave. Being called by a Major who told him that there were plans to transfer all the Western officers elsewhere because of this investigation and he reminded Jerry that he was a police agent (college grad) and that there was soon to be an opening in the Southwestern District Crime Control Team. Jerry requested transfer and was soon in the Southwestern District he was amazed at the low number of calls for service there after the 20 or so they got per officer per shift in the Western. Officers at the Southwest District now deferred to him because he was from the Big Bad Western District. The Crime Control Team was a federally funded program aimed at helping the community though aggressive patrol, operation ID (which had officers inscribing soundex/social security numbers on property to thwart burglars and thieves). The unit also set up community associations, and attended their meetings. I loved going to the meetings and reiterating what we called the “Help your local police, be a snitch!” speech. The good thing to come out of all this was the first full time police contact with the community and helping them solve problems. To this day, some of the community associations formed are still functioning. One time in the Crowd Control Team they worked in a "Decoy Mode" to catch thieves and robbers by sitting on the corner, looking drunk and hoping someone would rob them. One officer, Elmo Griffin, went so far as to get a police officer in the Southwest District, Ed Litzinger, who was a professional makeup artist, to do him up as a down and out drunk. When he was done the look was perfect . So perfect, that everyone thought they would have fun with the old Desk Sergeant. Jerry dragged Elmo, cuffed and struggling, into the lockup. Elmo went too far in his acting, and, before it could stopped, the Desk Sergeant laid him out with one swing of the Espantoon that he had hidden on the desk in front of him. It was a long night sitting in the emergency room with Elmo, whose face now was twice its size and bleeding through make up, wondering what he I was going to tell their Lieutenant. About this time in early 1974, Union people were organizing the Baltimore Police officers into a union. Before we knew it during that hot summer there was a police strike in Baltimore over wages &benefits. The last police strike was with the Boston Police Department in 1919. Jerry never trusted, or joined the union, whose organizers last dealt with coal miners in the hills of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Police officers are not coal miners. Sure, we needed a raise, but he wasn't going to Strike. When some Southwest officers found out that he, and most of the Crime Control team would not strike, they found their personal vehicles without windshield wipers, broken off at the hood. Jerry said he’ll never forget the Captain from Southwest District commander, pleading with his officers on the station house parking lot not to strike, and asking them to just go to work. It was unfair that afterwards he was removed as commander because his people went on strike. The Crime Control Team was placed on a police bus and taken to the Southeastern District to patrol that District. When the bus arrived striking police in front of the station were yelling "Scabs" at them, along with some other more colorful terms. One police officer spit in Jerry’s face.
After a few days the strike was over. It is said that Police Commissioner Donald Pomerleau, broke the union. Over 300 police officers were fired, and countless more were severely disciplined and transferred. It was a sad time to be a Baltimore Police Officer. Sadder still, was the end of the Crime Control Team. The officers were needed to staff the "new" Tactical Division, since all their officers were fired for striking. Walking up the stairs before we left the Crime Control Team office to respond downtown to Tactical, Jerry looked at our old graying, lovable Lieutenant, as he sat alone holding one of the long awaited, and just made gold uniform pin, "CCT#l" pins, sitting at his desk, with tears running down his face. It is said that when one door closes, another opens. As Jerry’s police career progressed, this statement rang truer, and truer, every time. Being an officer inthe new Tactical Division, assigned to the Operations Unit, brought many changes to his work responsibilities. Before, he was responsible for himself. Patrolling his assigned post, arresting bad guys, attending the different courts, writing tickets, and speaking at community meetings. Those were his primary responsibilities.
In a period of a few short years Jerry was intimately involved in the newly established, Quick Response Team (QRT) and the Departmental Marksman Team (Counter-Sniper). Being one of their first assigned officers; a pioneer, as some call it, and, enduring over seventeen years of service to these units has been the high point of his life. As well as becoming highly skilled in these endeavours, it was the camaraderie and esprit de corps that gave him his identity. This identity will be with him for the rest of his life. Though he always felt cheated not fighting for the good old U. S .of A. overseas and becoming a veteran of foreign wars (VFW), He was soon to join the ranks of the veterans of domestic wars (VDW). The early and mid-1970' s brought new problems to the station house doors of urban police departments. The SLA crisis in California, the Holliday Inn sniper incident (Mark Essex) in New Orleans, the memory of the Texas Tower are just a few of incidents that got the attention of police brass that screamed for a change in the police response to these incidents. The L.A.P.D. were the first department to institute a S.W.A.T. team, just in time as the SLA crisis erupted. If the old police response of "kick in the door and arrest the bad guys" happened, as it did for years in departments everywhere, the L.A. police officer widow's association would be a political force. How bad can it be when a sniper on top the Holliday Inn shoots and kills your Police Chief? Just ask the New Orleans P.D. Here in Baltimore, we were lucky..... so far. It was soon to change (circa 1976).
Formation and training. The information received was useful but had to be configured to our department. L.A. and New York each had a hundred officers committed to these efforts. Our team had to do it with a lot less. We even had problems with naming the team. We were not even allowed to call it S.W.A.T. a Deputy Commissioner felt that the name, “S.W.A.T.”, had the connotation of a "kill unit". Later, when new black Kevlar facemasks arrived for use, we were forbidden to wear them by order of this same Deputy Commissioner. He felt that their use would "scare the community". Finally, the name "Quick Response Team" was accepted. Nobody knew what it meant, but at least we had a name. The Tactical ranks were growing by transfers and by sending recruits straight to Tactical from the Academy. Looking back, this was not a bright idea. A maturation process has to occur in which a police officer reinforces what he/she has been taught at the Academy. This process, which takes about three years. can only occur at the busy police districts. Tactical doesn't respond to dog bite calls. Originally, twenty volunteer police officers from the two Tactical Operation Platoon's (A Platoon and B Platoon) were given physicals, psychological tests and weapons qualifications to complete. The physical part involved a timed mile run (it's three miles now), timed push-ups and sit-ups and overhand pull-ups. Then, Psychological Consultants, Inc., gave a battery of psychological tests and an interview with their psychologist had to be satisfactory completed. Facts had to be determined by the psychologist: Can this candidate kill another person if the situation demanded it? Can this candidate endure a very stressful situation and perform his tasks without breaking down? Candidates were also required to pass several timed stress courses involving the weapons in the Tactical arsenal with a score of 80 or above. Later when the Departmental Marksman Team (.308 rifle) was established, scores of 100 every three months were mandatory to be on the team.
Some candidates failed the 'physical part, some failed the psychological part and many failed the weapon qualification part. We were coming together. Other than the baseball hat, one-piece jumpsuit and revolver, the officers had to furnish the rest of the equipment out of his pocket. The Department did not have the money or budget for new equipment at this time. The new "QRT'ers" now mobbed local army surplus stores. Sales of old WWII web belts, holsters, watch caps, combat boots, nylon line, door jams, mirrors, all kinds of knives, rappelling equipment, first aid kits, speed loaders and canvass bags were just some of the items purchased. Jerry once bought a periscope that belonged on a tank. Unfortunately, it was too heavy and cumbersome to be useful on any situation. Everybody had different equipment. One person would have his revolver on his side, another under his arm, that one had it on his leg. Webbing, dyed or olive colored was at the discretion of the wearer. It got to the point that the webbing with everything attached got twisted and you couldn't stand up straight. They wore it because it made them look military, but more important, you could grab it if you had to pull someone out of a losing situation. Storage containers and ammo pouches were right side up or upside down. The one piece jump suits were worn over the uniform to make it quicker or our officers to get dressed (they also enlarged your size) at the scene of the incident. Throw in the antiquated .30 calibre Plainfield carbines that creaked because it’s parts were so loose, and well, we resembled a poor man’s rah-tag army. Jerry tells us this to illustrate how much we wanted this new idea 'to take hold and grow. Look, some cops want to be detectives; Jerry just wanted to be in QRT.
He looks at the new, constantly updated and equipped QRT of today (as of 2006 renamed SWAT) and it puts a smile on Jerry’s face; knowing he helped start and form this unit. Without written departmental directives they proceeded to train. They had to find the best and safest techniques for approaching and entering buildings held by barricaded suspect(s). The military couldn't help them. Their manual called for a likelihood of 15% causalities. We wanted 0% causalities. The preferred military tactic was to blow away the side of a building and assault. We certainly couldn't do this in Baltimore. We couldn't ask another department in the state, they were watching us. So we developed our own and Jerry was at the forefront. Our tactics involved timed group movement between buildings, room entries involving button hooks and criss-crosses to get us quickly out of the fatal "T" situations (doorways are shooters aiming points), mirroring everything around corners, and up high before movement, tying off doors, jamming them with wedges, leap frogging along hallways and securing danger areas with a cover officer so the team could move on, and, most of all, they had to achieve stealth by slow, quiet, deliberate movement, using hand signals.
These tactics were inculcated by repetition. Every training scenario stressed these techniques over and over. They wore all of their equipment including a 38-pound lead vest. Aggressors would pop out, armed with blank guns and shoot anyone taking a bad position. Officers would complain that they were not shot, so one sergeant used a water pistol and God forbid the officer that got wet. They trained at the old Central District basement, used the unused buildings at Gunpowder Range, old decaying schools and buildings in Baltimore. Anyplace that would give them a different perspective or hazard to work. They once trained around fully covered workers removing asbestos. They were fortunate that the military allowed them to use their rappelling tower at Gunpowder range. They were just happy to have a place to train.
In Tactical Operations, They worked the street with day and night tours of duty. Training was usually on dayshift, Tuesday and Thursdays. The department eventually gave them an extra hour for physical training, running the course around Patterson Park and Rash Field. It was the only "Benny" they received for being in QRT .They received no additional pay for their work and never had take-home cars. To hone our marksman skills, fifteen of them were sent to Fort Meade, Maryland in the summer of 1975 for M-16 sniper training to be conducted by their Marksman Training Unit #1. This two week training course was invaluable to Jerry because our two instructors were Vietnam veterans with sniper experience. They had been in many "hot" fire-fights. The course of fire started at 250 yards with firing points every 25 yards and the course was timed. The instructors took an Army recruiting poster that had a female Lieutenant, she was the hostage “Ervin”. They placed a picture of an armed suspect (hostage-taker) very close to her. The shooter had only eight square inches of target on the hostage-taker. Whenever a shooter struck or grazed the hostage the pitman called “Dumb Ervin” over the radio and the shooter failed the course.
In his nine courses of fire Jerry never heard "Dumb Ervin" and had the highest score in the two-week training course. To say he was happy was an understatement. His reward was being first to fire on full automatic in this Army range cleaning exercise. Trees that had been slated for removal to enlarge this range were first given to Jerry. Several cases of .223 calibre rounds were expended and quite a few trees were toppled with this kind of gunfire. What a reward for our new QRT marksman.
In the spring of 1976, the QRT teams were fully operational. Two police cars were loaded with equipment and called the 1991 cars. If a hostage,barricade, or sniper situation occurred anywhere in the city, they were to be notified to respond.
On a hot Friday night in April, a seventeen-year-old male argued with his girlfriend. To his dismay she broke up with him. Standing near the second floor window of 1303 W. Lombard St., he looked out at the street below. As his anger rose, he went to a closet, removed all his rifles and began loading them. He returned to the window holding a rifle and looked for a target. Three blocks to the north a Tactical Operations car was on patrol. Officer Colburn and Officer Gilpin heard what they thought were firecrackers to the south of their location and drove on Carey St. to investigate. Coming even with Truck #13's firehouse, a rifle bullet round struck-heir radiator. Both officers looked at .the other when another round exploded through their front windshield. Colburn quickly backed the car up, but got stuck on the curb and both officers bailed out of the radio car. The humid, quiet night was over. "1933 to KGA- WE’RE BEING FIRED UPON, LOMBARD AND CAREY” The dispatcher hit the alert tone “Signal 13, Lombard and Carey” Since this location was near the boundary line of three police districts many officers responded. One Western officer responding exited his vehicle and ran south on Carey St. toward the intersection. The Tactical officers yelled for him to stop ." DON'T GO DOWN THERE!" He went to the corner and stood behind a vehicle on the NE corner. The invitation was sent out and accepted. The sniper fired, the bullet struck the roof of this vehicle and followed a line through the officer's throat. If this officer would then of fallen directly on an operating room table at Shock Trauma, with the best thoracic surgeons in the world attending, it would have made no difference. The sniper on that good Friday 1976 just killed one of Baltimore’s finest. Another officer ran to assist him and the sniper's bullet nearly severed his arm at the elbow. Both officers lay on top of the other. The Emergency Vehicle Unit and 1991were called. A shotgun round fired by the suspect as they approached in single file met five Southern District officers trying to-gain entrance to the rear of the residence. All five were down, hit by pellets and debris.
Total chaos reigned. Uniformed and plainclothes officers were crawling all over the inner perimeter. There was no firearm discipline. All the police rounds fired never came close to the suspect, but made a big hole in the ceiling over the 2nd floor window. The front of the row house was pockmarked with bullet holes. There was no police communication discipline with officers yelling incoherently over the radio. QRT was slowly being put in cover positions by a Tactical Sergeant at the command post, set up at Baltimore and Carey Sts. It wasn’t until a Tactical Sergeant, armed with a .30 Cal Carbine, was able to get a high position on the rear fire escape across from the front of the location and fire rounds that got close to the suspect, causing him to retreat to the basement. The suspect decided that he wasn't going to die over his lost girlfriend and called police. At first, Communications thought it a crank call and hung up. He called back and was believed. He said he wanted to surrender and begged for dispatch to tell police not to shoot him, "Ok", said Communications, "Put your guns down and come to the front door and surrender". The suspect complied and was rushed by a mob of police who gave up what little cover they had to grab him and drag him to a waiting police wagon. In 39 minutes the situation was over, but memories of this event would last to this very day HERE. The officer's along with other police widows, worked to raise enough money for the new Baltimore police memorial for fallen officers across from Headquarters, next to the Shot Tower.
From a stand point of QRT and their commanders, the mistakes made on this relatively short situation of 39 minutes were many. We shivered at the thought of the dozen or so police officers that could have been easily shot by this suspect. He had the weapons and ammo to do it and, even later, informed investigators he could of shot many more. We believed him. Something had to be done. A controlled response was needed for these situations. Later, when he was at the academy, He taught in-service Officers, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Command staff and Recruits, the mistakes that were made on this situation and there remedies. First, when under fire, be explicit if you know the direction of where the fire is coming from. Don't invite other responding police officers to a "sniper party". Communications must ensure that officers park their vehicles blocks away and respond in on foot, developing cover and constantly look for sniper clues and positions before assisting officers, if it can be done at all. They must constantly give their location and, if ordered out of the inner perimeter, do so safely and advice Communications. Remember that the only effective gunfire returned at a suspect has to be at his height level or higher and is better performed by the Departmental Marksman. Suppression fire is used to keep a sniper(s) head down while evacuating wounded police and civilians, best performed by Tactical, who are trained in its specific method. Fire and communications discipline are a must by all police involved in a situation. If an order is given via communications, it is to be repeated, so there are no misunderstandings. No independent action is allowed unless given the go-ahead by Tactical. The officers are instructed on what cover is and how it is different from concealment and how to never give up cover to "nab a suspect"; you never know if there more than one suspect at the location. This is the reason Jerry constructed the simulation boards. To teach and to save police lives. More on the simulation board later.
It took one more year for the Department to put operating procedures on paper concerning the resolution of hostage /barricade and sniper situations. It came in the form of General Order G-2. Could it have saved an officer's life if implemented earlier? Maybe so, the ingrained method of "knocking down the door and arresting the bad guy" was hopefully at an end.
After the dust settled from Lombard and Carey, the Quick Response Team became a very busy unit. We once handled five situations in one night. Calls for barricaded suspects, hold-ups involving hostages, mental cases armed in low rises, sniper situations from high rises, had us hopping. Situations took, on average, five hours to resolution. On all situations, the inner and outer perimeter area has to be reconnoitred and the inner perimeter teams have to be strategically placed. A cover and "hands" officer has to be in the front and rear of suspect held buildings in the inner perimeter. Entry teams have to move slow an~ deliberately, tying off and jamming some doors, placing team members to cover critical locations as the team moved, and, when encountering suspects and hostages, dealing with them. Team safety was paramount. We thought and moved as a team. We gained strength from being in a team. We learned that we were only as strong as our weakest link and we trained to correct mistakes. As it turned out we were not the "kill team" envisioned by the media and even some police command members. Most all of our situations (90%) had suspects surrendering by negotiation, with QR T holding the inner perimeter, ready to make entry if negotiations failed or hostages became in imminent danger. Five percent (5%) of the-time, QRT effected the arrest or neutralization of the suspect. In the last five percent (5%), the suspect committed suicide. These percentages still hold today. Working hand and hand with the negotiators keep successful resolution high. A good QRT officer is one who shoots well on the range but in most dangerous situations will hold his fire until the conscious decision to shoot is made. It takes years and many situations to make a good QRT officer, which flies in the face of a police rotation policy to other assignments.
It is amazing to think that we made these entries without the use of body bunkers (ballistic shields) and ballistic proof Kevlar helmets (maybe they felt that our heads were that hard) all those years. For a short period we had the Maryland State Police loan us an M-10 armored personnel carrier. This vehicle is an invaluable tool to rescue injured civilians and police from sniper fire and move a team under fire to affect a building entry. In training at Quarantine Rd. (K-9 training area) He was operating the M-10 to get the team next to the door of the building that was to be assaulted; when he crashed it through an unmarked septic tank. We all went home "stinking" that day. It wasn't long before the M-10 broke down and couldn't be repaired. The parts cost too much. It was replaced with two high mileage armored trucks kept locked on a lot off the Fallsway.
Thinking back on all the situations, a few stand out. He once found himself in full gear hanging by his fingernails out of the second story window of 1506 Patterson Park Ave. with hostages screaming "Help us, he's outside the bedroom door with a gun". As he started pulling myself up, they now screamed, "He's coming innnnn"! Pulling with all his might, he flung himself into the bedroom, ran across the room and crashed into the opening door, slamming it and flinging the armed suspect down the hall. He then pulled Officer Brian Welsh through the window and placed the hostages under the bed. After drawing their revolvers, they opened the door and located the shocked suspect, who threw away his handgun and surrendered. Surprise had won out again. He never expected officers to materialize where he kept his hostages.
On a barricade situation on Loch Raven Blvd, where K-9 and District units were shot at Jerry was surprised to learn that the suspect was none other than an old childhood enemy. When he was ten years old he and his gang beat Jerry up pretty bad, scarring his face. He was armed with a 30.06 Winchester rifle when Offs. Ron Burke, Eric Harris and Jerry forced the front door and the darkness of the living room soon exploded in daylight as the suspect fired his 30.06. QRT quickly retreated. "Dwight/the suspect" later killed himself with that 30.06. A fitting end to one of life's biggest losers.
Sometimes you have to use what's at hand to resolve a situation. A suspect shot an Eastern District police officer, which was serving him a restraining order. He then held several Officers hostage, who were lucky to escape unharmed. The situation went on for ten long hours. After being relieved from the entry team, he became the gas team, along with Officer John Cherry. A fire truck raised its aerial ladder for them to gain access to the roof from down the street as he carried up a 37 mm gas gun, which is large and heavy, in full view of the gawking neighborhood. After John broke open a skylight window he fired a round of CS gas from the 37mm, the flash revealed the suspect, holding a gun below. Quickly reloading, he fired another BOOOOMMMM. He radioed for the QRT’s entry team to enter while he watched through the skylight. The situation was secured. On their way back down the aerial ladder the neighborhood was screaming, "They done killed him with a cannon!"
On a situation on 22nd Street, during a cold winter day an ex- Army captain barricaded himself a position on the top of an advertising firm, armed with an M-16 with iron sights he was secure. Except, it got colder and colder. Negotiations bogged down and our captain thought, since the suspect and himself were the same rank maybe he could talk him out. He went into the house and was taken hostage. Now, he’s in a fix because the army captain tells him that he's going to shoot him but he can’t decided where to shoot him. Finally, he asks our captain, ''Do you want it in the head or the groin". Our captain, wanting to leave this earth with his manhood intact, ops for the head shot, Meanwhile, outside, Jerry was told that the captain has been taken hostage, and if the suspect brings him out front, Jerry could take the shot. That's great eight inches of moving target, iron sights, M16, and 200 yards; just great! On top of this his captain's married with children. But he was prepared to do it. He has a great picture taken by photographers from the advertising company hanging in his home office of the moment that they were told their captain was a hostage. He must have done some great negotiating like promising his first born, etc. because the situation ended with the Army Captain shooting himself. A few years back, a friend of jerry’s who lives in a western Maryland city sent Jerry a news photo of their "captain" who was at the time the Chief, bringing a beer to an armed barricaded suspect sitting inside a window. Some people never learn. The neighborhood collected their children and locked their doors. QRT broke up into teams and quickly located a lion that had escaped from the Baltimore Zoo. Personnel of the Zoo, assigned to each team, fired a dart, and the lion which helped us to soon return the somewhat drowsy lion to his cage. Mr. Neal Watson, the zoo caretaker, was amazed that we found it so fast and didn’t have to injure his prized lion. That was key to this unit, we didn’t always have to harm the subject, in order to bring a conclusion to a call.
The most unforgettable person that Jerry had the honor to serve with during these times was a Lieutenant, he was a crusty, old, police veteran who had served with the Marines at a certain reservoir during the Korean War. He dressed impeccably and looked great in uniform. Recently, Officer Steve Kuhn, who is the present QRT training officer, showed Jerry a plaque just completed, with the Lieutenant's picture proclaiming on a bronze plate, "THE GRANDFATHER OF QRT" which will be displayed in the Tactical Ready Room. This Lieutenant became Jerry’s, and quite a few others, idea of what a leader should be like. Jerry and others modeled themselves after the Lieutenant when they became lieutenants and many times they would think after handling a complicated incident, "What would he have done". When we were "out on the bricks", he was there with us. During the hundred or so Inner Harbor festivals, details or City Fairs, the Lieutenant always stood with his people. He never was one to take comfort in an air-conditioned command post munching on food absconded by the house cats during a situation or a detail. He strongly believed in "eight hours pay, for eight hours work". No fooling around. Grab-Assing was after the tour of duty and then he would involve himself in the horseplay / grab-assed with you. He possessed the most colorful language that they had ever heard and he liberally used Marine Corp slang with telling effect. I feel cheated for both myself and the reader, that I cannot use it here. He got many of his men interested in scuba diving and was the best scuba instructor, even bringing a special chalkboard to depths of 50 feet and writing on· it to make a point. When he became angry, the back of his neck would turn red, and then it was, “watch out”. A dressing down from him could prove fatal! He was the only police officer that still carried in his rear pocket chrome "claw", which is an old police tool used to restrain a “disorderly” on his way to a call box so a wagon could be summoned. In the midst of a fight, his men could still hear their Lieutenant, “clicking his claw” as he got it ready for use. He was their leader. Jerry said he will greatly miss their “Dutch” uncle who has since passed away.
By 1983, Jerry was chosen to be the QRT training officer and assisted in getting the new body bunkers and Kevlar helmets. It certainly made them feel better protected. Speaking of bunkers, one bunker saved Officer Steve Kuhn's life on a hostage, turned barricade situation on Chase Street in 1987. A suspect, high on 75 caps of cocaine, fired into the bunker Steve was behind. It was a close call. On this situation at 1703 E. Chase St., where the suspect was killed by police gunfire and the house burned down because of heaps of clothing that caught fire from the thrown mini grenades (CS gas), we found out how the Mayor of Baltimore supported us. He allowed the victim's mother and followers to stage a parade and collect money to sue us, all with city assistance. Jerry attended and completed firearms training and became a Maryland Police Training (M.P.T.C.) classroom and firearm instructor. He was responsible for setting up M.P.T.C. approved courses of fire, scoring and maintaining all firearm records. All QRT had yearly qualification and maintain a score of 80% or better for all Tactical weapons. He had to be present and teach all QRT classroom and outside training and keep performance records on the teams. He was also on the QRT call up list, and went on every call. The hardest thing to do was locate buildings for training that weren't ready to collapse or biological hazards. The training officer job is never easy. Once, at Gunpowder Range, he was in the pits doing a "Jasco Course” and raising a target for a timed sequence and, when the time was up, pulled it down. The officer fired down as the target was being lowered and the round struck a metal crossbar and continued down. It struck Jerry in the chest and knocked him to the ground. The training coordinator got angry that other targets weren't coming up and stopped the sequence. He got a shock when he looked in the pits and saw Jerry lying there holding his chest with blood on my shirt. I only suffered a scratch on my sternum and they never reported the range "accident" to the range master. It would cause problems with our training, so it was hushed up (till now).
Another time, Jerry donned helmet, vest and pads in training so he could be· "shot" with plastic bullets. Only 1½ inch was not covered on the bottom of his groin and, you guessed it, that's where he was shot. They hurt for a month.
The Rastafarians in Northwest Baltimore took over the neighborhood surrounding the corners of Elmer and Belevedere. They felt that one of their members was killed by a police beating instead of him crashing through a glass window, severing an artery trying to escape capture and fighting with officers and bleeding to death. This group then went on a weeklong sniping episode while counter measures were planned. Finally, at dawn, Associated U Haul Trucks pulled up in front of the five Rastafarian locations and the whole QR T team secured these five locations and arrested some members. Thirty-seven weapons were recovered, some concealed under materials on the rooftops. A likeness of Jerry was taken from a Baltimore newspaper displaying him holding a shotgun that was changed to have a long ammo magazine sticking out of the weapon.
This poster was placed all over the inner city crying for vengeance for the
police killings. Jerry took some down and later showed them to his wife to be, so she would fully know and understand how Jerry, and QRT were appreciated by the fine folks of Baltimore City at the time. Jerry always hated to look at pictures of himself.
In 1983, the Departmental Marksman team was formed. The old .243 cal rifles that the Emergency Vehicle Unit used as sniper weapons were replaced with Remington 700’s, with bull barrels, 308 caliber with Leopold 3x10 scopes. We also got infra- red night vision devices. Members from QRT and the Emergency Vehicle Unit (EVU) comprised this unit. All of them were tested and trained by Officer Robert Powell who had an extensive background in bombs and rifles. He was called ''Beaver" a tag from his interest in inventing devices to blow up suspected bomb packages. He was an N.R.A. instructor. Jerry replaced him as the training officer for the marksman team so he could return to his bombs. We had some great shooters on this team. Bobby, Dave, Lou, Steve, Paul and Jerry of course were the backbone. They always qualified with 100s on the timed course, with supported and unsupported position, four times a year, a requirement set forth by the Maryland Training Commission to be Oft the call-up list for situations. All of them except Paul and Dave (EVU) were on constant QRT or Marksman call-up. And they loved it.
Counter snipers have to be smart. You have to pick a position that affords all views to the suspect's area. And, wait a minute. That's all We’re gonna say on the subject.
One time (Lakewood Ave.) Jerry set up on an individual who had five police officers pointing their weapons at him behind a police car and he was pointing a shotgun at them. A Mexican standoff. He kept moving slowly away from the officers down the street toward the command post. The command post major became concerned for his safety and ordered Jerry to fire if he continues south and gets to a certain address. His feet are now on the boundary line and he is starting to leannnnn in, well let’s just say, the wrong direction. He stops, and sits down on the boundary line with his shotgun. I wait. Finally, he walks the other way and puts the gun down and surrenders. He is escorted away to the roar of the crowd. A true hero of the ghetto. If he only knew how close he came to really making their day….
The phone ringing at 3 AM awakened me. "Respond to the command post at 3600 Reisterstown Rd.", the caller directed, "As you are the call up marksman". Jerry quickly got dressed, kissed his wife “Ruth” and Christopher, then was heading north on Rt.l70 as fast as he could. He stopped by Headquarters, parked his car and headed to the locker room to change into his QRT garb. Unlocking the arsenal he retrieved his case holding his .308 rifle and grabbed the keys to a marked police car. Heading up the JFX with blue light flashing, he listened to the police radio for clues on how the situation was progressing. Not much was said. At the command post he was informed that a barricaded woman was armed with a rifle at 3630 Reisterstown Rd., 2nd floor apartment and had shot repeatedly at negotiators. One bullet creasing the hair of a negotiator. Jerry was directed to the sniper position at 2801 Violet Ave. and relieved Lou on the 3rd floor. He had heard a conversation coming from the suspect's location across the alley, he saw a female wearing a brown coat come out on-the porch with a rifle and point the rifle in several different directions. This going in and coming out and pointing the rifle around in different directions went on for three hours. Jerry’s spotter was behind him wearing a blue shirt with silver collar pins. Jerry didn’t know at the time, but viewed later, the pins reflected light. At 7:20am it was getting lighter outside and she came out onto the porch again, like before she waived her rifle up and down the block pointing it in different directions. She then looked in their direction, quickly raised the rifle and fired. The bullet missed their heads by inches and struck the rafter overhead. Jerry couldn't return fire because she stood in the doorway and he knew that his round would go at a downward angle and could hit someone on the entry team outside the room on the stairwell. After she fired she looked down the alley, took aim and fired. Now, she had a brick wall behind her. She looked at them again and raised her rifle with the stock on the right side of her face. Watching through the scope, Jerry saw her close her left eye for sight alignment as her finger wrapped itself around the trigger, his cross hairs were squared on the left side of her face, one inch to the left of her nose, he aimed at her, her at him. Booooom… one of the two triggers was squeezed and Jerry went alive and off to his next call. He had no alternative. If I had not acted the suspect would have fired again, endangering his life and that of his spotter. He was upset even though he had trained for that moment. That afternoon Jerry sat down with his son and told him what had happened. The two were seated at the family dining room table and Jerry’s son was doing his homework. This being the first time, and Jerry being human was upset, but to be able to sit at that table with his son, is a large part of why he trained to do what he did, anyone else, and they may not have made it home to tell the story to their son. When he had finished telling his son, his son looked up and told him not to worry. He said, “daddy, you were only doing your job!” wisdom from the mouth of a ten year old. Later, the department psychologist asked him one question, he said, “Jerry, do you have any second thought on the shooting?” Jerry answered, “No!” the shrink then said, “in that case… Good Bye Sir! Have a nice day!” You can imagine Jerry’s shock of finding out that his mother and sisters made repeated calls to the police department's commissioner's office "praising the officers action" and how he "saved the neighborhood", and that they lived in the area of the shooting, and support the police. They said this in fake black voices. We have to love our families… sometimes they are as crazy as we are (O mean that in the best sense!) In Jerry’s case they were trying to sway of inner city’s public opinion.
Tactical Operations was also responsible for dignitary protection details. Jerry had the honor to protect all the Presidents from Ford to Bush. And even the Queen of England. Our details placed us in the motorcade as QRT or up high. To the best of my knowledge, Steve and Jerry were the only snipers that were allowed to set up their weapons with the Secret Service. By the mid 80's, QRT was given the responsibility to conduct all raids (drugs, gambling, arrest warrants, etc ... ) throughout the city that involved suspects who had a propensity for violence (near all of them; that is). If information was developed that a raid location had weapons, QRT was called. This called for them having to change their tactics from going slow and methodical to speed and surprise. It was very hard to change tactics but evidence that could be destroyed and the need for surprise was evident. We were so lucky to have body bunkers and helmets to use now. It seemed that every day we were going on a raid. As we went on more and more of these raids Jerry was developing a fantastic attitude, “If you keep running in front of the lion’s mouth; it is just a matter of time before you get bit”. Jerry seemed to those around him, more the type to bite, that the type to get bit. He would be told the day before that he and his team would be going on a raid. Let’s say, a drug gang (Yes, I said Gang. Even then Baltimore had Gangs; as much as City Hall and the brass in the top end of the PD would like you to think we didn’t) So let’s say this gang slept with Uzi’s in hand and had steel doors, with nails pointing up from the floors nearing the windows (Boobie traps were not new to Baltimore) Now imagine this is your job, you have this info in your head, and it’s time go home and try to sleep, knowing you were going in the next day or night to fight these traps. Time went on and the raids increased a new weapon was placed in large quantities on the QRT truck. Antacid tablets. We would respond to the District where the raid would take place and would plan the raid. Diagrams were made, responsibilities given out. You go out to the truck, gear up and reach in the box of antacid tablets and shove as many in your mouth as possible. Later, as the arrested drug suspects were being led out they began to notice cocaine powder on their noses and table surprised look on their faces as they looked at us with all the white powder plastered around our mouths?
This was taken for a Japanese SWAT magazine. The photographer was crazy for BPD SWAT
photos for his magazine. The writing is quite prosaic but tells of a "Man as a
counter sniper armed with an M-16, etc...( words to that effect ).
Jerry was the team leader on a raid for a wanted suspect who was armed. The sun was just on the horizon. Their mouths were dry from the antacids. A bunker team would clear the living room and wait at the cellar door if no resistance was met and the other was to head upstairs. The mall hit front door with a crash and the team became a blur. Jerry Was inside and heard team member upstairs yelling "Drop the gun, Drop the gun". Jerry grew wings and flew upstairs with his M-14 at the ready he looked at one of his bunker men pointing his weapon in the bathroom. He commanded again for the subject to "Drop the gun” – “drop the gun” as he moved to the side of the bathroom doorway. The cover officer and Jerry realized to our horror that the first officer to command the subject to drop his weapon was looking at himself in a full-length bathroom mirror. At the same time almost in sync Jerry and his partner yelled to the first officer, “Nooooo… stand down, hold your fire!!!” The officer realized his mistake, the house was quickly secured and the team walked away so happy that they didn’t have to write a property damage due to police gunfire!” report. As you guessed after they loaded the truck, they all grabbed a hand full, or should I say a mouth full or those antacids.
About this time, Jerry had scored high on the sergeant's test and knew that this time he would make it. He would probably have to leave Tactical. Thinking back over the seventeen plus years he spent in QRT, he would always remember this: "No matter how tired or sweaty he felt when a situation was resolved and they (he and the team) were leaving the location with the usual media crush, with lights and cameras on them; he wouldn’t at that time, and that moment; trade places with anyone in the world." In July 1991, his major called him at home and advised that he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He said that if he had his way he would like to keep Jerry in the Tactical Section, because of his long service, but the demands of the patrol districts came first. Jerry was happy and sad at the same time. He was leaving Tactical, it felt like something was being taken away from him. It was like coming home from a war and having to adjust to civilian life. Not long after his wife pinned that shiny sergeant's badge on his chest on the auditorium stage at the headquarters building, he learned he would be assigned to the Western District and would return to work for an old, and good friend; Victor Gregory. Just prior to Jerry's promotion, Vic was promoted to Major and he too was assigned to the Western. This made the transition much easier on Jerry, especially when he found out that Vic had personally requested his services for the Western. Jerry had first met Vic during the "snow emergencies" when he was in the Chief of Patrol's office a great sharp laugh. He was a true gentleman who hated to wear the "black hat". There were times dealing with the hard cases (police) in the Western where Jerry wished he had worn it. Vic told Jerry he also wanted him in his district for his calmness and decision-making under stress, a trait he observed as a captain in Tactical. Did he know something Jerry didn't? Vic said he wanted to calm Jerry down after all the situations and constant call up from the QRT and the Marksman Team. So he assigned him to the job a Desk Sergeant. A Desk Sergeant's job in the Western District turned out to be worse than that of a circus lion tamer. More arrests were processed at the Western District than anywhere else in the city. It was daunting to arrive at work on the 4x12 shift and view the long line of handcuffed prisoners, being guarded by the wagon men, as it stretched out unto the lot. Thank God, for having Officer David Buschman assigned to work with Jerry desk crew. His knowledge of booking prisoners was invaluable. He taught Jerry about a whole new world of computer booking (CAD) and the handling and administrative work involving prisoners. Jerry had worked with Dave as an officer on his shift in the early 70's. The police were always being rocked and bottled during arrests at this time and, as a diversion, Dave and Jerry purchased a ''Gorilla suit" on Lexington St. Expecting the usual nightly rock and bottle throwing incident one evening, Dave got a stalk of bananas from the fruit pier and, with him driving the wagon and Jerry in the back wearing this gorilla suit, they arrived at Lexington and Payson to a hail of bottles and bricks. The incident was over the usual disputed arrest when the wagon comes to a screeching halt and out jumps a "growling" gorilla with a stalk of bananas this caused the crowd to start throwing bottles and gape. To their shock, Jerry started throwing bananas and chasing them as they ran from the scene quicker than if 100 police were chasing them. The rock and bottle situations ceased, at least for a time. Jerry never remembered what Dave and he did with that gorilla suit but Jerry kept the mask. One time while in Tactical, he donned it while riding shotgun in a two man car when an officer in Tactical, advised he was making a drunk driving arrest. On the scene, he remained in the car looking at the drunk, as the drunk grew wide-eyed. Later, while in court (this officer having the same traffic court dates as Jerry), the accused told the judge "that the police had trained gorillas in the police cars" Jerry sat there the whole time biting a hole in his lip, as the judge sent the drunk away for a month to be dried out. It's probably a good thing that the mask finally melted from the heat in Jerry’s personal car. A usual shift had me taking personal information to book the prisoners and typing it into the computer, writing property receipts, Jerry was joking in amazement at the drugs and weapons the turnkey would find and pile up on the shelf from the "already searched" Prisoners, answering the phone from officers calling on medical, etc .. . Citizens constantly inquiring about the bail status of their loved ones, and news reporters looking for a story or an update on some heinous crime. Jerry had to arrange to feed the prisoners and sometimes clothe them. He had to attend bail hearing when the desk was short on personnel, and we were always short. He always had to sit with his back to the door and he never knew when the door opened if a person wanting to wreak revenge or just hated police was there, holding a gun, knife or other weapon. Since there was no daily prisoner pickup by City Jail on weekends, we were full to bursting sometime triple or even four to a cell (A cell made for one). With that came with the worst smell imaginable, we didn’t have assaults or rapes of prisons, but we had a smell that one could never forget. In fact there are two smells that for police the mere mentioning of them brings up the memory of a sent that one without a good gag reflex, might find themselves throwing up a little, even if it’s only in our own mouths… Yes it is that awful an odor. And those smells are; the cell block after a busy weekend, and the smell of a dead body. They were close each other in that they required disinfectant all over the cell block area and still it was to no avail. Jerry found himself calling around to other districts looking for room to house the Westerns constant overload. They had to have approval from the Duty Officer (Command member on nights and weekends) to be able to make room for the incoming prisoners. There were no easy days. For some reason city dwellers thought that if their loved ones were arrested they would surely be at the Western lock-up. Jerry would have to take the time to find them in the system or the phone would never stop. He once called Channel #45 to inquire if they would list the arrestee's last name next to the bail amount on the bottom of the TV screen during their action movies. To cut the tension he hung a food menu board in front of the fingerprinting area in the cellblock to be perused by the arrestees while being fingerprinted. I had a menu lined by number for entrees of (# 1) cell side baloney on toasted croquettes, (#2) Cajun blackened baloney, (#3) Cesar salad with baloney, (#4) baloney cordon bleu, (#5) filet mignon baloney al jus, etc ... it really made no difference. The only thing you got was a baloney sandwich on white bread. Amid the screaming and ringing phones, they would occasionally hear a prisoner request a number #2 from his turnkey turned waiter. And he’d kick himself in the ass later when the prisoner screamed from his cell when he got his food that his order was wrong.
Being a desk sergeant allowed Jerry to use the "scared straight" theme to advantage. To ensure that his son, Christopher, understood what would happen if he were ever to get arrested, Jerry informed him on a Saturday that he was going to work with him. The day before Jerry told the day shift wagon man to be waiting for him on a corner near the station. As Jerry pulled up the wagon man exited his vehicle saluted, then opened the passenger door and pulled out Jerry’s son out. He was placed not too gently on the ground, cuffed and placed in the wagon. Later, at the station he was the only white face in the crowd of prisoners waiting to be booked. Jerry booked him just like he would any other prisoner and he was searched, finger printed and photographed on the cellblock. He sat in his cell with prisoners on either side for eight hours and it wasn't long into the shift before they got his food. I feel he gained a new perspective of what happens when you break the law. We always kid one another about his "experience".
After almost a year on the desk, Jerry went up on the roof of the district and with his toes over the edge waited for Major Vic to exit the station house door on his way home. He looked up and jumped back Jerry said, “If you don’t take me off the desk I'm gonna jump" in a frustrated tone. He put his arms out and said, “As soon as something shakes loose, you’ll get your wish.” It would be much longer after that when Jerry would be assigned to Western District’s Sector 2.
Jerry will always be appalled at the dismal situation that reigned in the Western District; poverty, laws of community spirit due to the transient nature of the inhabitants, trash, rat infestations, homicides, and death. It seemed that if the scourge of drug addiction don’t get you, alcoholism did. Bending over the bullet-ridden body of a fast dying drug dealer. Jerry attempts to get a deathbed confession or maybe even an identification of who it was that killed him… Jerry appeals to this suspect/victim to maybe a closed a case, perhaps some sort of last minute sense of human action out of this guy that seems so ghetto thug inhuman that it has to be an act, so Jerry leans in close and makes a last ditch appeal for a name, a clue, anything when he tells the victim, he is about to die, before he does, does he want to give Jerry a name, is so, Jerry will get the SOB and make sure he doesn’t get away with taking a life. So what does Jerry get for his caring, what does he get for showing concern for someone that people claim society has given up on… he gets, one more ghetto thug, looking him in the eye and saying, “Fuck you pig…, I’m-a die…, I’m-a die…” so all Officer Jerry gets for his efforts, for his opening himself up, and for showing he cares about the oath he took, for wanting to go after the killer that took this young man’s life…he gets one last, last minute ghetto, “Fuck You!!!” as he passed on to the large Walgreens in the sky. Jerry was angry, he was embarrassed, he opened himself up to try to help, showing a little of his heart, but before he did, or said anything that would lower himself to the suspect’s level, he remembered, it wasn’t he that was fucked, the suspect was the one laying on the ground pouring out blood faster than he could think. He was the one that was fucked… Jerry made a final prayer “Mother Teresa - Where are you?” the few people that did attend community meetings seem to blame the police for all the problems. Jerry could see it was a natural reaction because we were the only city agency that is seen by the public, and it is often to remove a family member, friend or neighbor and some don’t realize, police don’t want to make arrests, they don’t understand, an officer makes the same pay whether he makes arrest or not, those that make arrest are not doing it for any other reason, than to try to make a neighborhood a place with less crime, a place where people are less likely to commit crimes. Kennedy said "Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on." The drug dealers and community are programming themselves to turn down outside helping hands, hands that are risking their lives to help clean a neighborhood that they have no other connection to, than a promise, an oath. And Jerry realized that night, that his oath was more important than getting even for a rude come back, more important than his pride. So he finished his prayer to God, going through Mother Mary, he asked for helping in either saving the dealers life, or capturing his killer. He prayed that someday the communities would realize, the police are not the enemy. Police are the only ones dying to create peace. Some of the drug dealers are seeing other city agencies, beside fire and police, the dealers will see snow removal crews, as they bribe them, sometimes in cash, sometimes in drugs, to clear an area for their regular buyers to pull in, cop dope, and roll out. While the officers are stuck in their fixed positions; again because the dealers bribe snow removal paying to clean one corner and to keep others not so clean causing a work slowdown, “or so the dealers say!”. Anyway, Jerry and the rest of this team remain buried in snow, Major Vic, after being blow torched at a meeting raged to them that he didn’t put the drug dealers in the trunk of his car, and bring them the work. Jerry had a more subtle tactic. He would take a police radio and explain in detail what was happening beyond the walls, when they realize how few police were out there handling calls, after some more out one arrests, or waiting for a crime labs, so they calmed down once they saw/heard what police were doing and trying to do. Then they became scared of the community they helped to create.
Sector #2 encompassed the area west of Fulton Avenue to Poplar Grove Street South of North Avenue to Baltimore Street, over half the city’s estimated 75,000 addicts live here. Throw in the drug related shootings the violence, and you have a daily tense, sometimes out of control situation. The HBO series “The Corner” originated from the corner of Fayette and Monroe here. They even risked filming here. What a dubious, and sick honor for the City of Baltimore. Wasn’t “Homicide Life In the Streets” Enough? Like working the desk in Western, there were no easy days. Jerry’s quad was mainly officers just out of the Academy. Officers that showed promise, or were ambitious would do their time and transfer out at the first opportunity. Every Christmas Jerry wondered what depravity would occur to women and children what will ruin his Christmas spirit on that holy day? They never let him down, yet he was always let down by their inability to lie and let live. (And when I say “They” and “Them”, I mean the people of the community, for this was not a black or white issue, it was an income bracket issue, a way of life issue, a built by government subsidies issues), Be it a white neighborhood, or a black neighborhood, people need to learn to work with the police to make things better for them. At times Officers were so busy chasing calls that Jerry could have regular squad meetings. They were handled giving information to my individual officers, between calls. The only other way was to pay overtime to get them before work, and that was not going to happen.
Jerry’s officers in charge (OIC) were Marty Domzalski and Jack Spiece, two others that spent their whole careers in the Western District, it takes a special person to spend so many years in one place, especially the Western Jack worked the quietest his post in the district, 725 Marty was the wagon man. Marty would be a great supervisor because he mastered the word “NO!”. Jerry tried to be diplomatic, and look for other ways before saying, “No!” He used to say I’ll get back to you on questions on leave, and details. When he returned after leave, the squad was happy to see him, after a week of Marty. When Jerry was first assigned to the Western as a patrolman, now called a “police officer”, Marty was in that sector #3 squad with all the old farts. He seemed to be the only one to back Jerry up on calls and Jerry would never forget that. Marty invited Jerry to was home in Carroll County, while he was living in Anne Arundel County, and he felt like they drove forever to get there. He loved the area and could understand why the officers called it God’s Country. Soon Ruth and Jerry were living there. The Western never had a compliment of cars mainly because the fleet the city bought (Ford Taurus’s) were terrible police cars. The city tried to be cheap, and ended up paying more in maintenance and repairs, than it would cost if they’d had paid for more expensive cars, equipped with police packages. Within weeks broken motor mounts and break jobs decimated the fleet. Jerry usually had to give his car to cover a post it didn’t have one. He usually drove with Marty in the wagon, or as it was called, the cruising patrol (prisoner transport vehicle). There was another reason for not having patrol vehicles. The shift wrecked them with abandon. Once, two new cars that did even have 1000 miles on them collided in a four way intersection going to a “cutting call” both were totaled. As he had his head inside one of the wrecked vehicles checking on his officer’s health, ten to fifteen minutes after the impact of the accident, the air bag deployed, knocking Jerry out of the car to the ground, with the coughing up the powder. Jerry guessed it was a new automobile feature the city purchased cheap from Poland airbags, a new delayed the airbag.
Jerry remembered sitting in Vic Gregory’s office within listening to the police radio on a situation where a South Eastern officer was shot in a high-rise and was near death. QRT was checking the high-rise for suspects. Jerry said that I hoped it doesn’t happen here!” He was wrong! Less than 24 hours away. One of the ugliest police shootings of recent time would occur…
It was one of those mornings that Jerry had hoped would remain quiet. Paperwork had piled up and he was presently working on the leave book schedule in the sector #2 office when a call came out in his sector directing, 724 to respond to 1929 west Mulberry Street for a ,man armed with an ice pick, tearing up the house. Prior to the call, after roll call, Jerry suspended this Ira Wiener “724” unit for radio misuse. The final punishment from the department was handed down, and Jerry had to have him forfeit five days for his punishment. Jerry couldn’t begin it was that day, that Saturday the shift was short (hindsight has everyone wishing they would have sent him home, there isn’t a time this is thought about where those involved don’t think about the, “What if’s?” and s how they couldn’t send him home because they were too short on manpower. This day 724, normally a two person shotgun car, had the demands set on one officer, 725 post was unmanned. Jerry had even had to detail two operations officers to fill two cars in his sector; Weiner was to forfeit five days next to forfeit five days next week to satisfies his punishment. He was also fated to shortly forfeit his life.
723 unit, (Terry Hendrickson), quickly stated he would back 724 up. Jerry stood up and started grabbing his things and looked at his bulletproof vest lying on the desk he had taken it off after roll call to the paperwork on that humid day. It was too late to put it on, Jerry heard 724 state he had arrived 10-23 and he was “going in”. Jerry rushed outside and saw Marty at the corner Riggs and Mount St in vehicle # 8929 as the gun engine and flew down Riggs avenue Jerry dove in through the passenger window and they were headed West on Riggs and south on Monroe St. The screaming on the radio told everyone it wasn’t going well. Terry was screaming that Ira was shot and that the suspect was shooting at him from the living room.
Only one suspect, Jerry bought. He got in and called for EVU to respond. He took a deep breath to galvanize himself for the ordeal ahead, and remembered that he wasn’t wearing a vest, and it shot through his mind. Would Ruth get my pension because it was stated that if you didn’t have the vest on when you were shot the city wouldn’t pay your survivor….. We stand for moving too fast and tried to come up with a plan, just as when Jerry helped to found QRT. But they were not there to help him this time. Now Jerry, was alone, I mean he had back-up and they were skilled police, but they were not trained. He thought to himself, it’s just you Jerry.. it’s just you.” Continued to visualize, he thought…. “One suspect, a living room, it will be dark inside, and light outside….” Marty broke at the corner Mulberry and Fulton Avenue, Jerry popped the trunk, and bailed out of the car, raced to the trunk, and retrieved the shotgun. Jerry shoved a few rounds into his pocket. He yelled for Marty to take the rear as he ran West on Mulberry Street, He saw terry beside the row house steps with his weapon drawn, pointing inside the location. Officers were pulling up and radio cars in the line of fire. Jerry grabbed Terry with his left hand and pulled him out a way as he held the shotgun with his right. He fell on the ground crying, as Jerry saw him out the corner his eye, Ira, was lying there in the vestibule with blood spraying from his head. Jerry squinted down the sites of his shotgun into the dark living room and saw the gun and the suspect coming around the corner of the vestibule. His gun detonated 5 feet from Jerry’s face as his shotgun boomed. The powder dust from his blast burned Jerry’s eyes. The suspect recoiled back; I stepped over Ira and racked another round in the shotgun. Going around the corner the suspect had the gun pointed in Jerry’s face boom when the shotgun and the suspect bent down and popped up again Jerry tried to rack another round in the shotgun but it had jammed. Holding the shotgun with his left hand he pulled his Glock from his holster and quickly fired three rounds into the suspect’s chest… Boom… Boom… Boom… as the suspect fell to the floor, Jerry heard rounds erupting from behind him, Pop… Pop… Pop… Pop… just them Jerry thought to himself, “What the fuck did you just do… Jerry..: quickly turning to face the gun fire and take cover, he continued his line of thought interrogating himself, “You fuck-up… there are other suspects in this house… and you just got yourself killed… Ruth will be alone.. I have to make it out of this!!! He quickly assessed his situation and realized the shots being fired were friendly, but there is really nothing friendly about bullets flying, even less when they’re being fired up range, and in your direction. It was back-up officers, opening fire beside Jerry, and behind him, Bam, Bam… Bam… The suspect was on the floor Jerry dived on top of him; “Stop shooting…” – “Hold the fire….” Jerry yelled; He was on the dying suspect, he pulled the gun from his hand with one hand, and grabbed his throat and felt for a pulse he got it, it was going slow, slower, slower, and then stopped. Jerry laid the suspect’s gun alongside his own shotgun and picked them both up to put them on a coffee table next to them while he was still on the suspect. “Get help for Ira” Jerry shouted and slumped down. It was dark inside, light outside, something jerry had said to himself before he arrived, before he went in… It was dark inside, it was light outside, his backup couldn’t see into the building, all they could see, was a brother down, and shots still being fired.
The Funeral went by in a blur for Jerry. He remembered Bright sunlight, helicopters, and news hounds everywhere. A mother crying for her son. A thousand draped flags, and crisp honor guard uniforms. Sharp commands were heard with the booming sounds of a twenty-one gun salute. Bagpipes to silence… The memories of that funeral will be with Jerry for the rest of his days.
A picture of his funeral hangs in his home office with an inscription;
I was what others did not want to be
I went where others feared ago, and did what others failed to do.
I ask nothing from those who gave nothing,
I reluctantly accepted at the thought of internal loneliness… Should I fail
I’ve seen the face of terror, felt the sting cold of fear
I enjoyed the sweet taste of a moments love
I’ve cried, pained and hoped
But most of all, I’ve lived times others would say are best forgotten
Why would Ira go in there? Nobody would’ve thought him a coward’s for waiting for his back-up to arrive. Why was the western district so short handed? Jerry was halted by the thought that, now, that his life had turned for the better by marrying Ruth, he almost had it end, and she widowed. He thanks God every day; but wonders; how many more times will he be there for him? Jerry asks this of God all the time!
It was quiet at the Oheb Shalom Memorial Park all Berryman’s Lane. Jerry often stops by Ira’s grave, as the Jewish tradition calls for a stone to be placed on the grave to show that people had visited, and remembered …Jerry would always leave a small metal rank insignia on his grave sort of as a way to not only let others know, but to let Ira know, a brother stopped by. It’s always hard to leave, and as Jerry leaves he finds himself looking back to the grave and thinking, Why? Something we all do!
The range later determined that the shotgun receiver had jammed due to old frayed 00 buck rounds. Again it comes down to a city that is so damn cheap, and out to save a buck!!! After this incident Jerry never let another police shotgun on the street until it had new, clean ammo, and he had inspected it personally.
In receiving the Medal of Honor, Don Scott Channel 13 Asked Jerry how it felt to receive a departments highest award for courage:
“Bittersweet!”, Jerry answered into the cameras, “Bittersweet!”
They always told Jerry that they brought him in as a new sergeant to the Western for reason and the brass said that day if Jerry hadn’t been there to lead and stand tall, more officers may have been shot, it was The District Major Victory Gregory that wrote the accounts of that awful day up, to nominate Jerry for both the “Fraternal Order of Police”, and the “Sun Paper” - “Officer of the Year” awards. Jerry may never forget the thunderous rounds of applause that erupted as the info was read to everyone at the award ceremonies where Jerry was awarded both of these awards. His wife, Ruth was by his side as well as some of his friends, and Jerry’s Major and long time friend Vic Gregory. Jerry proud that he was able to prevent more injuries that day, but will always be haunted by the loss of a friend, and fellow squad member Ira Neil Weiner on that 21 Sept 1992
The first time Gerry took the lieutenant’s test and interviewed he was promoted. During the ceremony it was rather quiet, with a respectful applause as each newly promoted lieutenant cross the stage to have their shiny badge pinned on by their spouse. When it was Jerry’s turn the speaker Colonel Joseph Bolesta, announced in jerry's name and that he was a medal of honor recipient the auditorium erupted in sheer. The crowd stood cheering long after Ruth had pinned the badge on Jerry's chest. As Jerry made his way back to a seat one of the other new lieutenant's called over to him, “what you want to do for an encore Jerry?” that encore was to be quiet as jerry's new assignment was the graveyard shift at the northwest district. The northwest was a unique district and its sector one resembling a an old war torn town with dilapidated buildings, drug corners and the crime that goes along with some. Sector two was a little better off, with neighborhood associations of people trying to keep their neighborhood clean, they were community associations on top of community associations of crime watch groups on top of crime watch groups with the COP pay the citizens on patrol in Baltimore’s first chapter of the guardian angels. And Jerry in the middle son to sort it all out so much for quiet. But Jerry like to challenge. And it came sector three it was the heart of the business district with Reisterstown mall and the Jewish population it was a long drive from sector one to sector three. There was even the street that went in a circle. Responding to a call from an officer, Jerry once got so lost but he jokingly called on the radio telling the officer to start a large fire so they can follow the smoke and possibly locate him. The thing the officer knew Jerry said to you are to dispatch gloves Jerry's in radio vernacular also. Gerry was lucky to have a good shift that didn't sleep, mainly because they were all so young so full piss and vinegar, the stats were all high and they were all very easily motivated. Jerry love his shift, and they in return love him. It was there that Jerry met Lieutenant Timothy O'Connell, who was the 8 to 4 and 4 to 12 shift and lieutenant. He would stay after his shift on the 40 12th to see if Jerry had any problems that he can help with. It wasn't long before their dry wit took over and they became good friends. The two work history nuts and believed it would have been better to have lived in another time. There are so see a shun was also for fortuitous. At the time is seeing did it was them against what may have been into feast captain the department has ever seen (I won't name names). The major to time wasn't fond of the either, and while Jerry will confirm nor deny this writer strongly believes that the major may have told Jerry and Lieutenant O'Connell to ignore the captain and go about their way. This is a lot about a man's work his stats and his ability to motivate and lead his men.
Jerry's new boss was a little different from his old, he knew of jerry's reputation and was a little suspicious. After me wants Ruth said, “You had better watch him!”. There were rumors about this major and the way treated people but that's not for this manuscript. For this manuscript we’ll focus on the positive, like how It didn’t go unnoticed that Jerry established the full cooperation and respect from his shift, If something happened on Jerry’s shift that was noteworthy, Jerry stayed back until the Major’s arrival at the district. It was hard to adjust to midnight shifts, by the time he got home; he was so exhausted he would go straight to sleep. He would awaken in the early afternoon and felt bad, he didn’t work out. He just sat and stared. Ruth would come home, and in short time she would head off to bed because of her early morning hours. Jerry tried to sleep but by this time it was impossible. By 10pm, he was on his way to work, heading south on Falls Rd. The only way to remain fresh while working at midnight shift was to stay up until 1pm and then go to sleep, waking up and heading off the work at night the way most do in the morning. Jerry could never stay up his long. There was one consolation that Jerry enjoyed on this shift and that was every morning at 6:30 am he would promptly, hop into his radio car and respond to Rogers Ave. in time for the subway pass by with his wife the lovely Mrs. Ruth DeManss as she would pass on her way to her downtown law office.
They would each wave to the other, and it made their mornings, much like high school sweethearts waving from one school bus to another. This is something that shows his softer, more human side, something that if a police ever loses, they may became totally inhuman, something we as police need, and something Jerry has managed to keep even after seeing all that he has seen. The life taken by those in the community he served, by those with little or no respect for human life, the life that Jerry himself, had taken in order to keep the community free from those with that lack of respect for humanity. But this sweetheart, to sweetheart wave, kept that human aspect of existence in Jerry’s life, and goes to show the old saying is true, behind every good man, is a good woman, in my case, it is Patty, in Jerry’s it is Ruth… Finally, one morning after almost hitting a guard railing while driving home, Jerry was able to change his shift to the 8x4(daytime) and 4xl2 (evening). A newly promoted Lieutenant who was a friend and fellow QRT member would take over Jerry’s midnight shift. Jerry hated leaving the men of his shift, but he knew they were who they were, and would continue to be great the police they were, their stats would remain among the highest in the city. Their caring and being cared for would continue too. These men and women were who they were because they were among the best, and the best breed better, with each of these officers in a friendly competing the instils better police on top of better police. The shift had some veterans and even though there we some problem officers, Jerry kept them under control. Now on the day shift, Jerry had faith in his successor that he would do the same as he did with that old night shift. They worked hard, and kept their stats well in the acceptable range. During Jerry’s time as Lieutenant on the day shift however, he picked up some dead wood, one officer in particular was an old timer and had two issues with his new sergeant, first the officer was substantially younger he had more than 23 years, the new sergeant had the minimum to make sergeant, so with only three years on, SHE was telling him what to do, you just caught the second issue, with more than twenty years experience over “HER” he didn’t do well taking orders from a younger officer. And second she was a she. This was an easy fix, Jerry found the officer in his normal sluggishly incompetent leaving the station one morning ready to take his post when Jerry pulled him into a cubical, closed the door, and stood between the officer and that closed door, towering over him as he told the officer, in a tone that could not be mistaken for anything but an order, and a serious order at that, Jerry said, “If he didn't listen to his sergeant, "I'm going to kick your ass!" As Jerry left the office with the old timer whimpering inside, they saw two of the districts best producing officers, lying on the floor trying not to laugh out loud. The female officer had never had trouble from the old timer again. Now this was something Jerry didn’t take lightly to doing, old timers deserve a certain amount respect, but as with anything in the department, you have to give respect, to get it in return, and as good as this old timer was, he needed a little shake to be reminded of it. She never had trouble with him again, and it wouldn’t be long before he himself would be promoted.
Jerry had a reputation of "no nonsense" when things got dangerous. The night shift was handling an attempt suicide for most of the night and it was time for the morning shift change. An individual was holding a butcher knife on himself with the negotiation team trying to get him to put down the knife and receive psychological treatment. As soon as the night shift lieutenant and his people left for relief, Jerry formed his squad. The first officer would spray mace in the suspects eyes, nose and mouth, the second would crush him with a body bunker and the third would use a riot stick to knock the knife from his hand. In one minute the situation that held a shift up all night was over and the next, the individual was merrily on his way for psychological treatment. With this Jerry’s shift could do it job to most effectively protect its community and with a full shift, preventing anything happening to our men as happened on the morning Ira was killed due to being undermanned.
Watching the abnormal for the even more abnormal… it was interesting to watch the drug corners. You knew when something bad was going to happen. When the stares were away from the watching police you knew that a shooting was imminent and you had to get units there fast. There were issues with officers not checking their cars during shift change and contraband was sometimes found behind rear seats, put there by arrestees, who push it there from being handcuffed from the rear. So one morning Jerry baited a police car with a large bag, or suspected dope (it was Creamora) and some guns (unloaded). Jerry told the desk and administrative crews what he had done and they took positions by the windows of the district to watch the show. Unfortunately, the car was now to be used as a patrol wagon and its driver was not the one Jerry wanted to make an impression on. It was a veteran police officer that was very through but had a heart condition. This officer asked the driver from the night shift if he checked the car and he said he didn't give a damn and walked away for relief. Before Jerry and others knew it, the rear seat was pulled out and ·he let out a gasp as he saw the guns and large bag of dope. Jerry hurried to his side, he put the bag of dope on the roof of the car and reached for his nitro glycerine. Jerry was holding a hot cup of coffee and a spoon, he reached down opened the plastic bag and watched closely the face of the wagon man as he took a spoon full of the Creamora and mixed it into his coffee. Jerry then mixed the suspected dope into his coffee, stirred it and then drank it. The look on his face of the wagon man went from one of rage to the biggest smile as everybody broke out laughing.
While sitting in the department auditorium one day, Major Reintzell of the Education and Training Division, approached and asked if Jerry would like to be detailed to The Academy for ninety days to insure that the trainee curriculum was still viable on the street. Jerry said he would love the opportunity if his major would agree. He was surprised that his Major had agreed and the detail order was cut. Jerry had always wanted to be on the Academy staff at some point in Jerry’s career. Being the training Officer in Tactical and already having his teaching credentials from the Maryland Police Training Commission facilitated the change. The Academy was located at the old Colt Training facility on Owings Mills Blvd. The Ravens are quartered there now. Jerry’s job entailed sitting in trainee classes all day and submitting reports to the major on the quality of instruction. As it neared the completion of the detail, he found that two lieutenants were now leading his old shift. Jerry could not return to his old shift. He felt the door closing on his return to the district. Major Reintzell called him into his office. He offered him the new Koga training program at the Academy. Jerry accepted it. It seemed that no lieutenant would touch this program because of the bad publicity generated by a certain range lieutenant. Koga training' was simply police aikido, which is a martial art involving self-defence tactics. Up to this point the department never really trained in the use of the Espantoon or any defensive tactics. In Jerry’s academy class if you wanted to put the boxing gloves on, fine, but it was nothing more. We were handed a nightstick and that was about it. Jerry remember later when Ed Schillo was at the academy he taught the "nightstick come along" and to strike your opponent on a certain nerve on his leg or his shoulder. This lack of training really left the department liable in court. The problem came up during initial baton training where this certain lieutenant got one of the city medical examiners to deem baton strikes to the torso as deadly force. The police commissioner, whose prior department in San Jose, California had Koga training, wanted it here. While on the street in Baltimore, he observed the poor positioning taken by our officers during arrest situations, searching and confronting suspects. He wanted them corrected. Jerry certainly agreed with that. He felt some training was better than nothing and looked forward to what Bob Koga would bring us. It turned out that Bob Koga and his instructor’s were first rate. The training was excellent. Jerry key was to find good instructors to teach it after they passed Bob's instruction. It wasn't easy but, over time, Jerry developed a cadre of instructors. Most had prior martial arts training and were used to hours on the mats. They readily accepted Bob's program, which came in three blocks, baton training, arrest and control training and self-defence training. It took about six months with much more instructor training required, but Jerry started the training. He trained the recruits first and then the street officers and sergeants. Jerry’s critiques from every officer that took the training were positive and they were forwarded up through the command levels of the department to the police commissioner. Baton torso strikes were taught in the beginning as deadly force, meaning that the officer couldn't resort to it unless his life or someone else's was in imminent danger. Jerry repeatedly took his case to departmental doctors and finally to the medical examiners but they would not make a decision on the deadly force matter. Finally, with the commissioner calling for crowd control training in 1998, to be taught by Bob Koga and his instructors to Tactical and Jerry’s training staff, he allowed the baton torso strikes to be non-deadly force. The time had come. The program was a success and its detractors were gone. The key item was: "Is there a significant risk of death or serious bodily injury from a baton torso strike?" When Jerry presented it to the command staff they now agreed without argument that it was non-deadly force. It took him three years to get to this point. given to the Baltimore police officers and supervisors made their lives on the street safer. That was his only goal. Jerry was called into the police commissioner's office in reference to the upcoming papal visit to Baltimore. Tactical was the crowd control unit for the city, but they were all needed for security duties with the secret service. Jerry was told to train and lead a large crowd control team for the upcoming papal visit. He selected one hundred district officers from all the districts, trained and equipped them. The papal visit to Baltimore in October 1996 was a huge success. There were no problems handling the thousands of people that lined the parade route and the places that the pope was to visit. It was a relief to all Jerry’s people when his helicopter took off to leave the city. Not many people know this, but before the pope's arrival a woman jumped to her death from a building lining the parade route and her body striking the pavement make an explosive sound. Officers thought that a shooting had occurred on the parade route and the secret service almost cancelled the pope leaving BWI airport to come to Baltimore. By getting the correct information promptly back to the secret service, the pope's visit to Baltimore commenced. Major Reintzell had seen sand tables used by the military to plan operations when he instituted leadership training for lieutenants with the aid of the Maryland National. Guard. He asked me if it was feasible to use them for hostage, barricade and sniper situations. Sand tables, no, but boards like the one the department made for the courtroom making on the inner perimeter before QRT arrived and we both came to the conclusion that this was a brilliant idea to pursue. "Jerry, can you build a board and create situations on it"? Jerry's answer was yes. Can it be played like a game? "Yes", he answered. he would update the departmental check off list of priorities that are common to all situations. A class would be given on this check-off list to familiarize the officers with their responsibilities.
During the scenario the participants will play the part of a Sergeant, a Lieutenant and a Major. When the participant says he/she is doing something on the check off list, it is checked off If the group gets all the items listed, you pass the given scenario. If you don't, the items missed will be gone over after the scenario, so they get reinforced. After much thought, Jerry got Officer Pete Kadish, who was in the Construction and Repair Unit to help. Taking a 4'x 8'piece of plywood, we painted it. By using construction tape we were able to make streets and alleys. Green tape became. Parks, blue tape became water. We built houses and buildings out of used plastic and used digital camera photos of real row houses to make realistic building front and rears. Jerry got a model company in the Northern District to donate some realistic model kits of buildings and, the academy trainees and myself glued them together. He got a tank car and RR track from Tim O'Connell. The board was taking shape. He even got a tape machine to play street sounds during the simulation. What about hazardous material situations? No problem, Pete and Jerry made a board and buildings for that also. Now Jerry had to develop realistic situations so he could train how officers should approach a hostage, barricade, sniper or hazardous materials situation, set up an inner and outer perimeter, and a command post, Etc. Jerry made colored blocks to represent different people on the board. They can be moved by the participant and added by the player depending on the situation. In training, an adult learns by doing, not by sitting in class taking notes. This will be great training. It was such great training that it came to the attention of the Law Enforcement Television Network (LETN) and they came to the Academy from Texas to film the training and use it on their show. He received numerous letters of commendation for the training on these boards from both officers and sergeants. The training now included lieutenants and our command staff. Jerry spent the whole of 1997 doing in-service training on the boards, sixteen hours a week till his voice was gone and Jerry was sucking on throat lozenges. A small price he would have to pay for this valuable training. It was worth it, he was making the officers safer on these hazardous situations. Major Victor Gregory took command of the Academy from Major John Reintzell and it was great to work closely with my old friend again. He always supported the decisions Jerry made on training and it was an honor to work with him again. Jerry was given responsibility for all the in-service training for the 3000 officers and sergeants, training for newly promoted sergeants and lieutenants, and became the Headquarters and Services Lieutenant (administrative work) of the academy. All this, in addition to coordinating Koga training and the simulation boards, left him very busy. Another responsibility Jerry incurred was the handling of departmental funerals. Jerry dealt with the family, funeral homes, churches, parking for 2000+ police cars at these location, police honor guard, Traffic Division, State Police, motorcades that involved the closing of major streets and thoroughfares (usually the Beltway and .Rt. 83), and even to choose the burial plots for the fallen officers at Dulaney Valley Cemetery. Vic Gregory was promoted to Colonel and would head the Human Resources Bureau in which the Academy belonged. Now, Vic was Jerry’s big boss. Commissioner Frazier promoted his aide de camp, Lieutenant Allen Kogut to major and assigned him to the Education and Training Division. Years before, Al introduced himself at the range, while we were firing a qualification course. He saw that someone had shot a large hole through the bull's eye area of the target and he heard my name called with the usual 100, and he walked down the firing line and shook my hand. Now having him at the academy was a definite plus. Al would insure that my last year on the department would go smoothly. The year went by fast. Keeping the Academy running smoothly was my main task. Jerry helped his sergeant, John Russo, who is also the colonel in the Maryland National Guard; develop a departmental plan for "Weapons of mass destruction". He also set up M.P.T.C. training for the newly promoted sergeants and lieutenants. Sadly, two Baltimore police officer funerals had to be planned and attended, both within a week. Jerry had read numerous books on the Appalachian Trail and it was his desire to hike its length. He spent this year preparing by buying a thousand dollars worth of hiking equipment and walking miles around his house laden down with a full pack. One night, Ruth was called by their neighbor, Barb, who informed her that a homeless man was walking around the neighborhood and for her to keep the doors locked when Ruth told her it was Jerry training for the AT he felt he was ready and one week after retirement, Jerry drove south with John Russo on his way to Fort Bragg. He deposited Jerry at Amicalola Falls State Park, Ga. (southern terminus of the AT) for the great hiking adventure to begin. Unfortunately, after a few days his back was in so much pain from the weight of his pack (not helped by Russo hiding 10 lbs. of beer bottles inside the pack), Jerry had to give up he felt dejected, but loved the beauty and smell of the mountains. His doctor later said he aggravated that old football injury in the thoracic area and, if he continued on. He would have ruptured a disk, requiring surgery. Thank God, he could call a friend living nearby in northern Georgia to come get him before all the long unemployed actors from "Deliverance" made him squeal like a pig. Thanks to the efforts of Major Allen Kogut, his family and many police friends attended his retirement at the Commissioner's Board Room on April 3, 1999. he cried toward the end of his speech because he knew that an important era of his life was over. Commissioner Thomas Frazier presented me with my retirement badge and ID card. The party afterwards at the Academy was a great surprise and the gift of the QRT statue was very fitting. Al's wife even baked a cake. Jerry's Departmental claim to fame was being the first supervisor in the history of the Baltimore Police Department to be awarded the "Medal of Honor" and survive the encounter two departmental historians verified this fact.
In looking back, Gerry accomplished what he had set out to. His father was a Merchant Marine during World War II, having made many hazardous convoy voyages. He sailed also on two convoys to Russia, known as the Murmansk and Archangel runs. He was an excellent construction painter, a foreman, a superintendent, and was much sought after in the painting business. He always turned out superior work and received many awards. He was proud of the fact that companies made money when he worked for them. Jerry’s uncle, Charles DeManss, was also a world war two army veteran, decorated in the European Theater of Operations and became an athletic director, and football coach at Catonsville senior high school. A job he held for 38 years. Charlie was known, and respected by everybody. They were his role models. As an adolescent Gerry also wanted to be respected and recognized in his career. He feels this was accomplished during his time with the Baltimore Police Department. As crazy as it sounds, and Jerry is as surprised as anyone that he recalls it, but as a child, he was enamored by a childhood book entitled “Little toot the tugboat that could.” He loved the book because of the other tugboats made fun of the Little tugboat until he proved itself to the bigger boats. Gerry would hide it on the shelves at branch 15 library, on Gorsuch Avenue, so other kids couldn’t read it. Even as a child, he wanted to accomplish something worthwhile, just as the little red tugboat, little toot.
Jerry mourned the passing of his uncle and Godfather, Charles, and his boss and mentor, Victor D. Gregory. He will miss their counsel and guidance. Vic often said, “Jerry years from now, when you look back on the department, remember the good times!”
What happens now? Gerry works as a part-time instructor for, Simulation Board Training and Officer Survival for the Maryland State Police Corp on Nursery Rd. He’s still looking for a job that he can enjoy. One thing that he is damn sure of, Ruth and he will be sitting on their deck in the high cool mountains of Western North Carolina, looking down on Lake Lure. This late got its’ name for the obvious reasons.
“If after his ashes are scattered into the winds from atop a high mountain, and you are savoring a fine cigar and sweet anisette, if you should wish to please Jerry’s ghost, forgive some poor police officer’s minor mistakes, remember Jerry’s funny antics and smile, and should things ever get out of hand, call a Quick Response”.
Not wanting to end this on note of passing, or to be too serious, I think it might be fun to hear a story that has a little humor in it, a story that has been around for a little while but never had a face attached to it. It seems there was a time when Jerry took up a small collection of theatrical masks, and costumes’, included in those was a professional gorilla mask, with chest plate, and hands. One of Jerry’s co-workers, a big guy offered up some of his older uniforms to Jerry, a winter reefer that would fit over his gorilla suit, Jerry was headed home when he saw one of his co-workers on the side of the road with a DWI car stop; Jerry already had his uniform pants on, so he quickly put on the gorilla chest plate, with hands, and the winter reefer. Donning the mask, he was now ready to approach the officer and his suspect. From behind the drunk driver he comes; walking up, the officer sees him coming and knows who it is right away. The drunk now turns and see this and screams out of fear; a monkey in uniform, the suspect climbs on top the patrol car; at the time it was the single bubble type light, the drunk is hugging this light and won’t get down, they finally convince him it is a trained gorilla, trained in sniffing out DWI’s - like a K9 can find drugs, this gorilla can tell when you've had too much to drink. The driver failed the road side tests, and was taken to night traffic court. Once before the judge, the drunk told him of the newly devised, trained "Gorilla Police Force"… He received several hours in the "shrink" tank after the judge did an EP on him. So if you've ever heard the story; and I know I have. I just never knew who the monkey was in the monkey suit! Now we all do! – Well we now have another great story thanks to Jerry DeManss. One last thing, Lt Darrell R. Duggins should be remembered as the Grandfather of QRT he was one of the best, and played a large role in the formation of the team, as did Jerry DeManss. Thanks for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it
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