Police Records

History of the Force:

The first police force for Baltimore Town was created in 1784. Constables were appointed and given police powers to keep the peace. The State Legislature on March 16, 1853, passed a bill, “to provide for the better security … in the City of Baltimore.” This statute provided that police officers should be armed and that a badge and commission be furnished each member. In March of 1862, the Federal military authorities who had taken control of the Baltimore City police on June 27, 1861, turned over the Police Department to the authority of the state. In 1867 the State established a Board of Police Commissioners (Chapter 367, Acts of 1867). From 1867 until 1920, the Board of Police Commissioners was appointed by the Governor. After 1920, a single Police Commissioner of Baltimore City was chosen and also served on the Governor’s Advisory Council. In 1978, the State Legislature granted the Mayor the power to appoint the Police Commissioner, subject to confirmation by the City Council (Chapter 920, Acts of 1976).

The Records:

Because the Police Department remains a State agency, most police records are considered State Records, and many are therefore located at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.  Here are the series related to the Baltimore City Police Department at the MSA and BCA (BCA records are labelled with an *):

  • Historical description of the department: SH248
  • Board of Police Commissioners Trial of Officers S1895 (1962-1975) and Proceedings S1894 (1866-1966)- some of these proceedings have been digitized and are available online through the link, Reports T2438 (1910-1914)
  • Criminal Dockets Consolidated C3065 (1873-1955), for Central District C2117 (1885-1960), Eastern District C2111 (1863-1959), Middle District C2109 (1870-1884), Northeastern District C2110 (1900-1960), Northwestern District C2112 (1876-1959), Southeastern District C2115 (1959-1961), Southern District C2113 (1867-1960), Western District C2114 (1959-1961), Southwestern District T4880 (1901-1959), and Miscellaneous C3075 (1902-1956),
  • Homicide Docket T2290 (1954-1955)
  • Housing Docket C3067 (1850-1951)
  • Invoice Records T2293 (1913)
  • Juvenile Dockets (NOTE: Juvenile records are restricted- please see information in series descriptions via the links) Central District C3070 (1943-1954), Eastern District T2263 (1943-1971), Northeastern District T2262 (1943-1954), Northern District T4859 (1949-1955), Northwestern District T2274 (1943-1952), Southwestern District T4879 (1949-1951)
  • Marshalls Dockets T2437 (1891-1894)
  • Matron’s Records T2276 (1940-1951)
  • Military Dockets T2440 (1942-1944)
  • Motor Vehicle Maintenance Records C3071 (1942-1949)
  • Patrol Wagon Records C3073 (1944-1948)
  • Police Casualties T2300 (1870-1964)
  • Roll Books C3066 (1871-1950)
  • Traffic Dockets C3068 (1931-1961)
  • Arrest Record Indexes C3072 (1891-1916)
  • Arrestees Physical Descriptions C3069 (1908-1923)
  • William M. Hackley Collection BMS34 (1849-2009)*
  • Baltimore City Police Department Gifts and Acquisitions BMS33*
  • Reports: Board of Police Commissioners for the City of Baltimore BRG68-1(1868-1955)*

Other Sources:

  • Personnel records are held and maintained at the Police Department’s Personnel section.  They have personnel jackets (containing transfers, assignments, discipline, and commendations/awards) as well as microfilmed reports that date from the early 1900’s to the present.
  • An independently maintained website created by the late Police Detective William M. Hackley and maintained by retired Police Detective Ken Driscoll contains a great quantity of useful information about the department: http://baltimorecitypolicehistory.com/

This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.

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