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Recognizing the DPSCS “police force”

Little-known but critically important among DPSCS agencies is the Internal Investigative Unit, whose highly-skilled detectives handle a variety of criminal and administrative cases.

With mid-May being the time to honor police officers across the nation, it’s only fitting to honor the detectives who investigative crimes and misconduct within the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Internal Investigative Unit (some of whose members are pictured above).

As recently as 1984, Maryland’s prisons had no formal system of dealing with or investigating internal complaints, employee misconduct, and even criminal offenses. Back then, the Maryland State Police was still within DPSCS, and its investigative unit had to handle prison system complaints---if those complaints ever made it to the agency.

In 1984, the State Police expertise was put to the extreme test when Correctional Officer Herman L. Toulson was killed during an uprising at the old State Pen. That terrible incident led to the State Legislature mandating an independent Division of Correction Internal Investigative Unit for Maryland’s prison system.

Five years later, IIU expanded to statewide offices, and began to include all criminal investigations involving on-duty DPSCS staff as well as crimes committed by inmates.

Finally, in 1999, with the State Police no longer a part of DPSCS, and the scope and volume of investigative work even greater, the Department established a totally independent Internal Investigative Unit, answering only to the Secretary of Public Safety.

Today, the DPSCS IIU includes two dozen experienced detectives with full police powers. They handle nearly all cases of serious employee misconduct, inmate violence, and the like, with the legal authority to interview suspects and witnesses, make arrests, and place criminal charges. Detectives perform a vast variety of investigative functions, from attending the autopsies of deceased inmates to working hand-in-hand with the State’s Attorney’s Office in all 24 Maryland jurisdictions, and partnering with law enforcement, both at the State Police and local level.

“I am very proud of the work and customer service that my detectives provide the DPSCS and the citizens of Maryland,” says IIU’s commander, Mr. Jesse Ballard, III, who assumed the role of director in 2011 upon the retirement of Mr. Douglas Cloman. Mr. Ballard is a former Marine and 24-year veteran of the DPSCS, having started as a correctional officer in 1987. “It is humbling,” he says, “to know where the unit has come from, and it still excites me every day looking ahead to the agency’s bright future.”

DPSCS salutes its Internal Investigative Unit, whose detectives and support staff perform critical investigative work designed to uphold the mission of the Department: to protect the public, its employees, and the offenders and detainees under its supervision.