City Council Begins Review Of Medallion Towing System

Department of Transportation officials recommend outside consultant

Baltimore lawmakers agreed Wednesday night that the way the city handles contracts with a handful of towing companies needs to be reformed, and they want an outside consultant to study the issue.

Officials are seeking to review an arcane system known as "medallion" towing, in which many of the 10 certified companies have been virtually locked into their contracts for the past three decades. Some kept their contracts despite having problems that led to the state decertifying their businesses.

Councilman James B. Kraft said that the legislative oversight hearing was called "to see how the system can be improved" to unify the towing process, which is a shared responsibility of the Department of Transportation and police.
The towing issue attracted attention after federal authorities arrested 17 city police officers in February and charged them with getting kickbacks for steering drivers involved in accidents to a Rosedale towing company and car repair shop that was not on the city's list of certified companies.

In February, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and the mayor demanded a review of the entire practice, in which the small number of towing companies are dispatched to tow vehicles that are disabled or involved in accidents.

Though so-called medallion companies were not implicated in the alleged scheme, the embarrassing spectacle and implications of police corruption prompted a review of the way in which cars are towed by the city and who gets the money.


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