Baltimore, MD – A Baltimore police officer died from a drug overdose while partying with his girlfriend at a motel in Halethorpe on Friday.
Baltimore County police said that paramedics were called to a motel in the 4400-block of Washington Boulevard at about 3:10 a.m. on Feb. 22, according to WBAL.
Baltimore Police Officer Joseph Banks Jr., 25, was found unresponsive inside a motel room.
His 24-year-old girlfriend told police that she and Officer Banks had been doing drugs throughout the day, WJZ reported.
She told police that Officer Banks used the last of the drugs about 11 p.m. on Feb. 21 and then started to have trouble breathing.
According to the police report, the officer’s girlfriend called a friend to get a dose of Narcan.
However, once she got the lifesaving medication, his girlfriend was unable to administer it, WJZ reported.
She called for help shortly after 3 a.m., but when paramedics responded, they were unable to revive Officer Banks.
The police report said that the officer was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol when he died, according to WJZ.
Police said both heroin and opioids were found at the scene.
Officer Banks had been assigned to the juvenile booking unit, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The death of Officer Banks was just latest blow to a police department that has been shrinking for years as the city’s crime and murder rates have skyrocketed.
In January, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a new law enforcement initiative that included a 200-officer strike force to fight crime in Baltimore.
“People who live in Baltimore are rightfully scared,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said, according The Baltimore Sun. “They don’t feel safe in their own neighborhoods. Citizens across the state are outraged by the daily headlines of this rampant gang violence. … They’re crying out for somebody to do something to stop these killings.”
The governor also promised money for signing bonuses for the Baltimore Police Department, as they desperately struggle to attract applicants to the police force.
The Baltimore Police Department had 3,000 officers 10 years ago under former Mayor Martin O’Malley, but that force was reduced by 500 officers under former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Current Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has complained she doesn’t have enough officers to patrol the city, and has asked for state assistance in tackling the city’s growing crime wave.
Pugh has also struggled to replace the police commissioner for the past year.
She most recently tapped New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison for her new commissioner.
The crime problem in Baltimore is also expected to be at the top of the priority list for the new state legislative session.
In December of 2018, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he would push the state to assist with several anti-crime initiatives in Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Miller said he wanted to authorize a private police force for Johns Hopkins University, help the Baltimore mayor recruit 500 new officers, and launch a second police academy out of Coppin State University.
State Senator Bill Ferguson said he appreciated Hogan’s willingness to partner with the city to tackle the problem with increasing violence, and said they needed “an all-hands-on-deck approach” to address the complex issues.
Hogan has said he will introduce legislation to increase mandatory minimum sentences for repeat gun offenders.
He also promised to introduce a bill that would create a tracking system for sentences so that judges couldn’t get away with letting defendants off too easily.
Hogan said the federal consent decree between Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice wasn’t helping the problem.
He said there was too much attention paid to the failures of police and not enough paid to the violence of the criminals they’re trying to apprehend.
“There’s been a whole lot of focus on the consent decree...,” Hogan said. “I think it’s out of balance. We’re going to focus on getting the criminals off the street.”