By Peter Hermann (Baltimore Sun, June 16, 2011)
Marc J. Camarote, a Baltimore police sergeant, has a tale for the tabloids.
Early Wednesday, the 15-year veteran was riding shotgun in an unmarked cruiser, speeding down Hanover Street to a robbery call in South Baltimore. He felt something on the back of his neck, and thinking his partner was playing a joke, he took a swipe with his arm.
That’s when he discovered a large rodent had crawled up his back.
The rat bit the palm and thumb of Camarote’s right hand. The two struggled, and the sergeant was finally able to throw the rat out of cruiser and onto the southbound lanes of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.
His partner rushed to nearby Harbor Hospital, and they were told they needed to go back and find the rat, to have it tested for rabies. They returned to the scene of the crime, and according to a well-placed police source, found the suspected rat limping along Hanover Street.
A struggle ensued, the police source said, but in the end, Baltimore’s Finest won the battle. A cop beat the rat to death with an umbrella. Must not have been carrying his Espantoon.
The officers bagged the rodent and it’s being tested for disease. The sergeant is out on medical leave, awaiting to see if the rat is diseased.
Details, including the sergeant’s name, came from the police source, but the incident itself was confirmed by the Baltimore Police Department’s chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. He did not officially release the officer’s name.
It’s not known how the rat infiltrated the cruiser; the source said the officers believe it crawled up through the underbelly and gnawed on some wires before it crawled to the passenger seat and up the sergeant’s backside. It’s not even clear if the rat knew he was breaking into a cop car.
Robert F. Cherry, the police union president, said that any cop from his first patrol days knows that running into alleys and onto streets means not only watching out for broken glass and drug needles, “but also rats.”
Camarote can take comfort in knowing that he’s not the first cop bitten by an animal other than a pit bull. Back in 1996, Officer Drew Dorbert got attacked by an 3-foot-long Ornate Nile Monitor Lizard that had beeng hanging out near Patterson Park.
Getting bitten by a rat inside a police car will most certainly earn Camarote a bit of unwanted fame, and ribbing by his colleagues. Cherry knew the sergeant when he patrolled the Western District, and wanted it know that he’s a “good officer.”
Camarote’s only mention in the newspaper before now came in 2004, when retired police reporter Richard Irwin gave him the journalistic equivalent of a medal of valor — a mention in the old police blotter for a drug arrest.
(Originally published in Baltimore Sun 6-16-2011.)