Press Release
State of Maryland
Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services
DPSCS seal Communications Office Contact
Mark Vernarelli
410-339-5065 ~ mvernarelli@dpscs.state.md.us

DPSCS and Baltimore CitiWatch Collaboration Blocks Contraband Stash from Getting into Detention Center
First-ever CCTV contraband bust again shows anti-corruption efforts started in 2010 making it harder for corrupt activity to happen inside jail

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TOWSON, MD (November 20, 2013) – A unique collaboration between the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) and Baltimore City, utilizing their CitiWatch CCTV system, is paying dividends. Law enforcement officials thwarted an attempt to introduce contraband into the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) from the street during the early morning hours of Sunday, November 17th. The CitiWatch partnership is an integral piece of a coordinated anti-corruption campaign, which is today making corruption and illegal activity in the jail increasingly more difficult.

The CitiWatch collaboration began in January 2013, and is just one part of a targeted and coordinated effort, that DPSCS is leading, to make BCDC more secure. In addition to CitiWatch, DPSCS made sweeping leadership changes within the pretrial system in 2010, formed the MD Prison Taskforce with federal and local law enforcement partners in 2011, put new leadership in place at BCDC during 2012 and 2013, increased security and investigative measures to stop the influx of contraband, and maximized intelligence gathering capabilities to go after corruption. The result is that contraband is at an all-time low since tracking began in 2010. The introduction of contraband was driven down by 51% YTD through October 2013, as compared to YTD through October 2012.

During the early morning hours of November 17, DPSCS staff assigned to Baltimore’s CitiWatch Center noticed the suspicious activity outside BDCD, and immediately notified police. At about 2:00am, police saw three people involved in an attempt to attach packages containing marijuana, tobacco, and a cell phone to a fabricated rope coming from a window on the top floor of the Jail Industries building, part of the BCDC complex. Two adults were arrested near the 400 block of East Madison Street and charged with intent to deliver contraband into BCDC.

The arrests highlight the various partnerships DPSCS has built with law enforcement to create secure facilities and go after corruption. Other security improvements at BCDC include technology investments into an upgraded video surveillance system with 234 HD cameras and a 45 day digital recording ability, and a $4 million investment into a state-of-the-art Managed Access cellphone signal interception system. In addition, today, all visitors are scanned through a real-time digital fingerprint reading system to check for criminal history.

Leadership is now making 30 computerized random intensive searches of both staff and detainees each day, as well as targeted facility searches three times daily, once per shift. The

entire facility is searched once a week. BCDC now uses rotational entry screening teams from other facilities at entrance points, rotating every 30 days, and K-9 and Special Operations Group utilization has increased.

And through a completely revamped Internal Investigative Unit (IIU), DPSCS has also strengthened intelligence and investigation efforts, streamlining them into a single unit. IIU’s ranks are expanding by eight detectives, four analysts, and three regional intelligence captains, and intelligence coordination is vastly improved across the Department.

This past summer, the City Correctional Investigative Unit was also created. This is an anti-corruption investigative team comprised of Baltimore City State’s Attorneys, DPSCS investigators, and investigators from the Maryland State Police, who are continually working with the Department to go after corruption inside its Baltimore-based facilities.

Sunday’s arrests highlight the various partnerships DPSCS has built with its federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts to go after corruption in Maryland’s correctional system. Together, these efforts are showing that it has become increasingly difficult for both gangs and corrupt staff to operate inside the State’s Baltimore City correctional complex.

Additional information on the security efforts at BCDC can be found here.