Letters Archives

A Note of Thanks After a Tumultuous Night

To the University Community:

As Baltimore grieves the loss of Freddie Gray and lays him to rest today, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with our neighbors. I thank the students, faculty, and staff who work and learn in West Baltimore every day, providing essential services and advocating for greater investment and opportunity in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus. I have no doubt that the incidents of the past two weeks will galvanize us as a community and firm our resolve to fight for safety, equality, and justice for all.

Now that the events of the weekend are behind us, I do want to express my profound appreciation to all those who kept the University, its people, and our neighbors safe. The fact that no students or employees were injured as tensions ran high Saturday evening is a testament to the courage and skill of many.

With UMB Police Chief Antonio Williams attending a training exercise out of town, securing the campus was the responsibility of Deputy Police Chief Milland Reed. His calm command of the situation deserves our recognition and gratitude, especially as a campuswide shelter-in-place order hasn't been issued in decades.

While the University was officially closed as of 1 p.m. on Saturday, there were nevertheless several people on campus who needed protection, notably 24 of our parking attendants staffing garages used by visitors to the city, including those attending a baseball game at Camden Yards and a show at the Hippodrome Theatre. Upon issuing the shelter-in-place order, the UMB Police gathered the attendants in a safe location and secured the garages.

I am deeply grateful to Robert Milner, director of parking and transportation services, who worked closely with the police all evening to ensure the security of his employees. After the shelter-in-place order was lifted at 11:30 p.m., Mr. Milner, Deputy Chief Reed, and his officers made sure that all 24 parking attendants were able to get home safely, coordinating rides for those who otherwise would have been stranded due to significant mass transit delays.

The UMB Police van escort service was activated once the shelter-in-place order was lifted, and the van—operating until nearly 2 a.m.—transported about three dozen people home safely.

During the evening shift change at Shock Trauma, UMB Police lined the street between the Shock Trauma Center and the Baltimore Grand Garage on N. Paca Street, where many hospital employees park, in order to provide protection.

Police officers retrieved two students from Maryland Carey Law and offered them shelter in the Pine Street Police Station. I understand the difficulty inherent in deploying officers to the law school as violence was escalating, and I thank our police force for valuing the safety of our students above all.

In total, about half of UMB's police force was deployed on and around campus Saturday evening, including several reserve officers called in to service as the conditions in Baltimore worsened. As many residents and visitors were leaving Baltimore, five officers were on their way into the city to provide reinforcement for their colleagues: Ofc. Michael Russo, Ofc. Rodney Jones, Cpl. Andrew Degele, Cpl. Thomas Darnell, and Sgt. Randall White, who drove in from Easton, Maryland.

Also deserving enormous credit is the staff of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, who were in continual contact with the police throughout the evening. Senior Media Relations Specialist Jill Yesko remained on campus with the police until the shelter-in-place order was lifted, making sure that timely, accurate information was conveyed to the University community.

In fact, I received a touching email from a woman who recently retired from UMB. Her ex-husband was rushed to Shock Trauma on Saturday, suffering a ruptured aneurysm. She said it was our timely communication to the University community that allowed her to advise her son of the conditions on campus. She forwarded him the UMB alerts as well as the public safety phone number. After consulting with public safety personnel, her son was able to be with his father as he underwent surgery.

I thank the University's Emergency Management Team, which includes representatives from every school and every unit on campus. The team spent much of Friday preparing for the weekend, and it was this careful planning that put us in a good position to meet the challenges we confronted.

Baltimore was in the national spotlight on Saturday. We had to do our jobs right, and we did. To everyone who contributed to that effort, I thank you.

I thank, as well, all of you who are vigorously dedicated to making our community and our city a more just and enriched place to be.

Sincerely, 

Jay A. Perman, MD
President


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