A day in the life: A third-generation police officer patrols Highlandtown

Written by on July 18, 2012 in Crime, Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

During an actual search and seizure on N. Lakewood Ave. last Friday, 20-year Baltimore Police veteran Rob Manning secures the rear of the building. Detectives were looking for stolen electronics.

Officer Rob Manning, now in his 20th year with the Baltimore Police Department, likes to start his 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. patrol shift by driving around Highlandtown to “see who’s out.”

“I look and see what knuckleheads are out,” Manning says with a knowing smile. “They’re probably the same ones I’ll be dealing with tonight.”

He also stops at local businesses and banks, and the senior center.

“I like to let them know I’m here,” Manning says.

Last Friday, July 13, the Baltimore Police Department ignored superstition and held its annual Community Night, holding cookouts and meet-and-greets at its district stations and offering residents the opportunity to ride along with a patrol officer for the evening.

The Baltimore Guide took them up on it, riding with Officer Manning of the Southeastern District.

“I love my job,” says Manning, with sincerity. “It’s in my blood.”

His father and grandfather were also officers in the Baltimore Police Department.

Manning patrols 224 Post: north to south from Eastern Ave. to Baltimore St.; and east to west from Linwood Ave. to Haven St.

“The post I have is the post I grew up in,” he says.

Stolen medication reported

Manning’s first call is a report of stolen medication at the Rite Aid in the Santoni’s shopping center. En route, Manning expresses his skepticism regarding the call. Some people, he says, sell their anti-anxiety medication, a “downer,” and then report it stolen when they actually need it.

“If we can prove a fraud, we go with that,” says Manning.

At Rite Aid, he speaks to the complainant, a tall, husky man with a shaved head. The man tells Manning that the pharmacy won’t sell him more medication, despite his telling them that his original supply was stolen by a houseguest. Manning tells the man to show the pharmacist the police paperwork with the case number for the stolen property complaint.

“You should be good to go,” Manning says, stopping short of vouching for the man inside the pharmacy.

Sleeping on the sidewalk

Following the Rite Aid call, Manning responds to a report of a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk. Upon identifying the man, he parks his cruiser on the opposite side of the street and walks over slowly, so as not to startle him.

“You know you can’t be lying here,” Manning says in a gentle voice. The bearded man is young, not more than 40 years old. He squints in the light, painfully waking up.

“You have to get up and walk somewhere else,” says Manning. “Do you need a hand up, or are you good?”

The man pulls himself to his feet and walks away, hunched and just steady enough.

“It’s a shame; that’s somebody’s uncle, or brother,” Manning says, adding that the individual suffers from substance abuse problems.

Townhouse squatter

At around 4 p.m., Manning receives a call that a man squatting in a townhouse has threatened the property manager with knives.

Manning immediately flips on the siren and punches the gas, and the cruiser flies east on E. Baltimore St.

Again, Manning is skeptical, wondering aloud whether there are truly knives involved. Nevertheless, he must quickly respond to any report involving weapons.

Four officers arrive at the 3500 block of E. Baltimore St. They cautiously enter the dark building together, and remain inside for several minutes. Eventually, they emerge with a rangy, gray-haired man, probably in his late 50s or early 60s. The officers sit the man on the front stoop of the property. At one point, all five of them, including the man in handcuffs, can be seen laughing together. Eventually, they put the man in the back of a cruiser and depart the scene.

Manning says that they uncovered two warrants out for the man’s arrest—one for an unknown offense in Cecil County, and the other for driving with a suspended license. He says that no knives were found.

Manning also explains the laughter at the scene:

“He said ‘I never lie to the police,’ right after he gave us a fake name,” he says, laughing again.

Serving a warrant

Manning responds to a couple more calls, including a report of two bicycles stolen out of a yard on the 3800 block of Claremont St.

At around 5 p.m., he gets call for assistance from detectives serving a search and seizure warrant at two homes in the 500 block of N. Lakewood Ave. Two recently-apprehended juveniles are suspected of burglarizing multiple homes in  the  Highlandtown area; these are the properties where police believe they cached a large amount of stolen electronics.

“They wreaked havoc on my post,” says Manning, responding to the call.

Whenever police serve a search and seizure warrant, a uniformed officer must enter the building first, and a uniformed officer must also secure any secondary point of exit from the building.

A couple blocks from N. Lakewood, Manning hears a honk and pulls over his cruiser. A couple of unmarked cars are parallel parked. Three plain-clothes detectives are putting on their bullet-proof vests, getting ready to serve the warrant.

Detective Sergeant Jae Kim, who briefs his two colleagues and the two uniformed officers—Manning and Patrol Officer Allison Hobe.

“We’re knocking on the door,” says Kim. “Hopefully, they answer. If not, we’ve got a ram. We’re in no hurry—looking for electronics like laptops, phones, and keys to cars.”

The five officers are calm, but there’s a giddiness just under the surface. Manning and Hobe decide that Manning will secure the back, and Hobe will go in the front.

At N. Lakewood Ave., Manning stands behind the houses with his hand on his gun. Hobe and the detectives go in the front. All is quiet, and after about an hour and a half, Kim pokes his head out the back door to tell Manning all is secure.

On Friday, July 13, approximately 30 citizens rode with on-duty officers. Major William Davis, commander of the Southeastern District, says that citizens who live in that district may request to ride with officers. They should call 410-637-8848.

by Erik Zygmont


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