Only In Baltimore
That was the reaction of the police union after accused killer Phillip West was let out of jail on $100,000 bail. The police aren’t the only ones outraged by what’s going on and, in fact, in trying to find someone who agrees with the decision of the judge, only the defendant and his attorney can seem to muster the gumption to say it was the right thing to do.
Rodney Beamon, Jr. was killed in Fells Point bar “Blarney Stone” just a few days before Christmas last year. West remained at large for nearly a month before turning himself in, but was then released on bail fairly quickly thereafter. The reactions have been swift, but not varied. Noted Beth Hawks, a business owner in Fells Point, “I believe this man’s bail should be revoked immediately.”
Judge Michael Studdard
The judge responsible for the decision is Michael Studdard. West will be confined to his home as part of an at-home monitoring program. What’s so unusual about the news is that Studdard is a former prosecutor and was appointed by Governor Larry Hogan. Hogan himself had some choice words about the decision, however. Noted Hogan:
It seems to me to be outrageous. This is an issue that I’ve been out there talking about for more than a year—about the leniency of particularly Baltimore City judges. We are addressing that in legislation this year.
Hogan also noted that he is pushing hard for “judicial transparency” so Marylanders know precisely when decisions like this one are made. Baltimore Police Department interim commissioner Gary Tuggle noted:
“If that means keeping someone in prison pending trial—pending their due process—then we need to do that,” Tuggle said. “But it all goes back to deterrence, and if we’re not deterring people, then people are going to continue to do what they do.”
The list of city and state officials critical of the decision is too long to note. Suffice to say that this incident alone is likely to go a long way in determining the direction of safety measures for the state and city going forward.