Baltimore, MD – April 26, 2017 - I couldn’t help but think, yesterday evening, as I was driving downtown to attend the Baltimore City Police Department’s Medal Day Ceremony, that just two years ago, to the day, protestors marched from the Baltimore City Hall to the Inner Harbor, one week after the arrest of Freddie Gray. The ensuing violence led to damaging at least five police vehicles and the pelting of police officers with rocks, as storefronts were smashed near Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Those attending the Orioles-Red Sox game were forced to remain inside the stadium for their safety, and six police officers were among the injured.

My reminiscing set the stage for the very touching award ceremony I was about to witness at the Baltimore City Police Headquarters. The bi-annual Medal Day Ceremony recognizes just some of the several heroic acts displayed by police officers and lay citizens, alike. Captain Sheri Sturm, Professional Development & Training Academy, presided over the program.

Mayor Catherine Pugh, in her opening remarks, acknowledged the presence of Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, before explaining, “This is a very special evening, and I am really honored to join you all—the officers and civilian employees, who represent the best qualities of the Baltimore City Police Department. Medal Day is a celebration of your bravery and to your service of the citizens of Baltimore.”

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis subsequently made the presentations. Just some of the heroic acts performed to earn them were preventing suicidal acts, performing CPR resuscitation, rescuing endangered citizens, and sustaining life-threatening wounds while on duty. Councilman Schleifer and Unit 24 of Shomrim of Baltimore, were recognized among these heroes and honored with plaques.

To the credit of a coordinated effort between police and Shomrim, two suspects were arrested in connection with four car jackings that took place within three blocks of each other in the Park Heights area, last Sunday. It was the quick-thinking Unit 24 member of Shomrim who contacted Mr. Schleifer, working together with the police to track the suspects.

After the fourth carjacking of the day at 8:10 p.m., one Shomrim unit went to a major intersection on the path of escape from the third carjacking at 3:30 p.m. (known because somebody followed them a few minutes) and then saw the just-carjacked car go by. He followed with a car in-between (to avoid being recognized) and after a few minutes realized the car in-between was, in fact, the third carjacked car. He followed it for about twenty minutes continuously calling out the location until a police roadblock at Cold Spring Lane and York Road. The two carjacked cars saw the roadblock ahead and turned down a side street. Police chased one of the two cars for another ten minutes until two carjackers jumped out and ran. With the help of Foxtrot, police eventually caught one of them and later found the other car empty.

“These are the everyday stories that don’t get told on the 6 o’clock news, but when you hear them, they pull at your heartstrings,” notes Commissioner Kevin Davis, after the award ceremony. “These officers are out there doing this work every day on behalf of the citizens, and then, it was a pleasure to recognize some civilian employees and some citizens, like Councilman Yitzy Schleifer, for his role in apprehension of a carjacking suspect the other day. With the community phone call that was made to him and his immediate contact with the District Commander, it got the ball rolling and we were able to make an apprehension of a very dangerous person.”

“I appreciate the Commissioner recognizing Shomrim’s efforts in working with the police department in resolving the car jackings,” commented Councilman Schleifer. “The community collaboration and the cooperation with the police department is very important and I am glad that everything came together on Sunday to be able to put these car jackings behind us as opposed to having them continue.”

According to Chief Steven O’Dell, Forensic Science and Evidence Management Division, “Yitzy is a very active and involved Councilman in public safety and he has been a very big proponent and big advocate in using science, especially, forensic science, to solve crime. We are really lucky to have him as an advocate who reaches out to us and support us.”

“I feel honored to be part of the Shomrim team with so many truly dedicated members who care so much and work so hard to protect our neighbors, together with the police department,” concludes Unit 24. “This incident was very exciting with me giving live location updates for about twenty minutes while police were catching up from behind, setting a roadblock ahead, and with the police helicopter joining and ultimately directing an additional ten minutes of chase after the police took over. I thank Hashem that the victims were not seriously harmed and that all Shomrim members and police officers were unharmed.”