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Baltimore reporter Dick Irwin remembered as icon of crime reporting

By T.C. Cameron

Dick Irwin, a police reporter whose career at the News American, The Evening Sun and The Baltimore Sun spanned 44 years, died Wednesday due to diabetes. He was 76.

His full name was John Richard Irwin, but he was best identified by his byline name of Dick Irwin and his signature “Police Blotter” column, which first appeared in 1979 in the News American. Irwin wrote the column until he retired from the Sun in 2010.

According to an obituary in the Sun, Irwin was remembered as a sweetheart in the newsroom who had no problem playing the role of a gruesome bear when dealing with police officers and officials who refused to provide information.

"Dick was the finest police reporter I've ever known," said Peter Hermann, who began covering the Baltimore police department for the Sun in 1994 and now covers crime for The Washington Post. "He knew all the cops. He knew their families. And he got information out of them that no one else ever could."

Hermann told Sun reporter Frederick N. Rasmussen that Irwin could be "gruff, especially when the cops wouldn't give him information. Nothing angered him more than that and he had no problem yelling back at people.”

The son of a military officer, Irwin was a former Marine Corps Reservist who dressed like a detective. Irwin drove a white Ford Crown Victoria, which often gave him unfettered access to crime scenes without having to ask.

Irwin was born and raised in Baltimore’s Pimlico neighborhoods and delivered the News-Post as a youth. While still a student at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, Irwin scored his first job as a copy boy at the News-Post in 1955 while serving as editor of his school’s newspaper.

After ascending to a reporter’s position, Irwin was laid off in 1958. He became a police officer, ran a gas station in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and worked for the Social Security Administration before returning to journalism in 1965 for the News American.

When the News American ceased operation in 1986, Irwin’s column moved up Calvert Street to the Evening Sun. When the Evening Sun folded in 1995, Irwin moved to the Sun.

Irwin is survived by his wife, Gwendolynn and two sons, John and Richard Irwin.

A Sun report by Frederick N. Rasmussen published May 22 contributed to this story.

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