The Baltimore County auxiliary police officer who told a man filming an arrest in Towson over the winter that he had lost his freedom of speech and had better "shut your [expletive] mouth or you're going to jail" has been taken off patrol, the Baltimore County Police Department reported Friday.
Police Chief Jim Johnson said he made the decision after a months-long investigation by the department's internal affairs unit, according to a statement from police.
Matthew S. Betz, 44, who has volunteered for the department for 22 years, no longer has arrest powers and will not be allowed to go on patrol as a result, the statement said.
The investigation stemmed from a Feb. 23 confrontation between Betz, who is a volunteer auxiliary officer, and a college student who was filming as two individuals were being placed under arrest at approximately 1:45 a.m. in the 400 block of York Road, according to police.
Officers ordered the student who was filming to leave the scene because they said he was detracting attention from the incident at hand.
"Do not disrespect us and do not not listen to us. Now walk away and shut your [expletive] mouth or you're going to jail," Betz said in the video.
"I thought I had freedom of speech here," the videographer said.
"You don't," the officer responded. "You've just lost it."
The videographer, identified by The Baltimore Sun as 21-year-old Sergio Gutierrez, 21, a business technology administration major at UMBC, said the experience demonstrated the importance of filming police in public.
"It protects the police, it protects civilians all around—because when police see that they’re being recorded, they’ll perform their duties with ... more discretion," Guttierrez told the paper.
In fact, the internal investigation unit found the auxiliary officer behaved inappropriately, the report from police said.
"The language he used was incorrect, unnecessary and not helpful in bringing the incident to closure," Johnson said.
Going forward, Betz may continue to perform administrative duties for the department, which he has been limited to doing since the incident, but will no longer be permitted to go on patrol or have arrest powers, according to police.
As a result of the incident, the chief said he is requiring all existing auxiliary officers to go through retraining on top of an annual training already in place, according to a statement from police.
Members of the auxiliary program—which includes 88 trained volunteers—have limited arrest powers, do not carry firearms and are required to complete 115 hours of training before assisting officers, police said.
"These volunteers make a huge commitment to this department and to this county; they contribute thousands of dollars' worth of manpower each year, an asset we value and want to preserve," Johnson said. "At the same time, this recent incident highlighted the need to make sure volunteer auxiliary members are thoroughly trained and properly assigned, both for their own safety and for the good of our citizens."Related: