Wed | May 31, 2023

Maryland gets first black police chief

Governor Moore announces new initiatives, funding to curb gun violence

Published:Saturday | March 25, 2023 | 12:05 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

Newly elected Governor of Maryland Wes Moore has announced the appointment of the first black person to become head of the Maryland State Police.Tasked to lead the Maryland State Police and usher in a new era of law-enforcement strategy is Lt Col Roland Butler.Butler comes to the position with nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement, including as chief of the State Police Field Operations Bureau, where he led a patrol force of more than 1,000 troopers and investigative personnel assigned to 23 barracks.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to lead the Maryland State Police under Governor Moore’s mission to truly improve the quality of life of citizens across the state,” said Butler. “I know the task ahead of me will not be easy but I am ready, and so are the women and men of the Maryland State Police, to make an impact on our communities, and protect all Marylanders and those travelling through the state.”

During his career, Butler served in both line and supervisory positions as he was promoted through the ranks, rising to become the sixth African-American lieutenant colonel in the 102-year history of the Maryland State Police. He has served on the superintendent’s staff, in the Maryland State Police Support Services Bureau Office of Equity and Inclusion, and in other positions throughout the Field Operations Bureau.

Joined by newly confirmed Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Carolyn Scruggs and Secretary of Juvenile Services Vincent Schiraldi, the governor underscored the new focus on training and equipping the police to meet the challenges of law enforcement.

“To rebuild the State Police force, we must elevate the profession, invest in the training and development of our troopers, and do all we can to cultivate a culture that retains, advances, and rewards the most effective and ethical law-enforcement professionals,” said Moore. “The Maryland State Police is the vanguard of law enforcement in our state and at its best, that is what our State Police has done; and under my administration, that is the standard State Police will uphold.”


In a press conference to announce the appointments and new measures, the governor ordered all public safety agencies - including all state police agencies, corrections, and juvenile Services - to produce ‘after-action reports’ when homicides or non-fatal shootings occur within their areas of responsibility

He also announced $11 million in supplemental funding for Maryland Coordination and Analysis Centre (MCAC). He said that with this funding, MCAC will expand staffing, conduct trainings, and invest in technology infrastructure to keep Maryland safe from cyberattacks and threats.

The investment will help create more effective collaboration and data analysis for MCAC to develop leads on suspicious criminal activity, drive more complete and effective investigations, and close more cases.

Moore also announced that MCAC and the city of Baltimore have resumed an active partnership - bringing elite intelligence and investigations capability to Maryland’s largest city and hope to communities that have been devastated by crime. MCAC staff includes members of 30 federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies that source intelligence from across Maryland, neighbouring states, and the federal government.

The $11 million in MCAC funding complements substantial public safety investment priorities in the governor’s budget for fiscal year 2024, which includes:

* $122 million in aid to local police departments, with $17.5 million dedicated to Baltimore city;

* Nearly $69 million in direct local law-enforcement grants, including $5 million to protect Marylanders against hate crimes;

* $35 million for Victims of Crime Act funding to provide crime victims with the assistance and services necessary to aid in their restoration after a violent criminal act.

Maryland experiences an average of 724 murders by guns yearly, while those wounded by gunfire averages around 1, 747 per year. It has the 22nd-highest rate of gun violence in the United States.