Protect and Serve? When Protectors Become Predators

Baltimore police officers have shown themselves to be pretty darn petty.

And vindictive.

Two cases that recently came before the Civilian Review Board (CRB) exemplify the real risk citizens face when after they “see something” they actually “say something”.

The scenarios couldn’t have been more different.  One happened in the summer of 2017, when a woman was arrested in front of her home on her way from work.  CRB reported on the results of its two-month investigation and sustained her claims of harassment, false arrest and false imprisonment.

“This is the sort of policing you don’t want to see… I thought it was awful,”

—     Dr. Mel Currie CRB’s southwestern district representative.

The other is from summer 2019, when a 28-year old man while walking by officers who were engaged in a stop, was chased, knocked to the ground and arrested himself. At its regular monthly meeting on September 19, the CRB agreed to initiate an investigation into his harassment complaint, separate from the department’s internal investigation, which may take a year.

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It’s no anomaly when Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) officials retaliate against citizens who challenge their authority, speak negatively about the department or in this one case illuminate someone’s shortcomings.

In Baltimore, the “snitches get stitches” mentality also applies to those who dare complain about excessive force or police intimidation tactics.

What happened to the claimant could have easily happened to anyone in Baltimore at a four way stop sign – blindsided when a car blows through. She avoided certain catastrophe by mere seconds at no fault of her own.

The woman did what most prudent people do, she glared at the reckless driver and kept it moving.

Things should have ended there, but it didn’t.  The other car, just so happens, was a BPD squad car.  It was driven by a veteran patrol officer of over 27 years.  The CRB without access to personnel records is unable to determine if this was his first or fiftieth complaint, a constant irritant as the members struggle with recommending a suitable discipline.

“[The police officer] escalated the confrontation by … following her, going to her house and then towing her husband’s car,” said Betty Robinson, CRB northeastern district representative.

CRB Members Experiences Bring Unique Perspectives

Insight into the mindset of the officer was offered by CRB member Fred Jackson, retired from the Baltimore Sheriff’s department.  He enumerated the series of the department’s problematic decisions in the traffic stop.

First, the officer was likely upset about the “near miss” at the intersection and likely put off by the woman’s perturbed response.

Second, the “stop” required he put both his lights and sirens and he had to have a reason to stop her.  She was not given a ticket for any traffic violation. (He didn’t show up for court, thusly dismissing the case).

Finally, BPD towed the car that legally parked at her home:

“That was spiteful,” said Jackson, northwestern district representative.

In a perfect example of justice delayed is justice denied, the CRB sustained the woman’s allegations against the officer, using relying upon evidence just recently provided by BPD in violation of state statute.

BPD is required to turn over IAD files on complaints within 90 days.  The internal affairs department held this case for over a year. CRB has done little to push back against the departments habitual nose thumbing of their obligation in the citizen review process.

Once investigators got the file, BWC footage shows the subject officer being “very agitated, very confrontational” said Bridal Pearson, northern district.  The former CRB chair cited IAD’s reprimand of the veteran officer for “conduct unbecoming an officer” in his rationale for sustaining the woman’s complaint.

Although the woman and her husband have moved fearing BPD retaliation, this is the kind of case that keeps city solicitor Andre Davis working overtime. Davis, a mayoral appointee, has succeeded in both thwarting investigations into BPD misconduct, as well as silencing its critics.

However, now that the CRB has validated the woman’s claims, it opens the door for civil litigation.

Already victims have difficulty recovering seized property and reimbursement of costs wrongfully incurred (in this case towing), said board member Amy Cruice representing the ACLU.  The victim could have used the board’s finding to assist in being made whole financially, but the year deadline for tort claim remedy also expired, she said.

Ultimately both BPD’s internal investigation and the one conducted independently by the CRB arrived at the very same conclusion: the cop was all kinds of wrong.

The officer said he had his lights and sirens on when he went through the stop signs (He didn’t).  The charge against her was eluding an officer (She wasn’t).

Once she arrived and parked at her house, the victim herself had to request the officer to activate his Body Worn Camera (BWC), CRB found in its investigation.   The internal investigators dinged him for that as well.

City Solicitor Abandons Citizens To Favor Shielding Bad Cops

Even though CRB was unanimous in its decision to sustain the allegation, they could not move to the next phase of recommending discipline because the case had expired by the time BPD handed over its file that permitted CRB to review evidence.

CRB has been criticized for being a paper tiger, with no real authority to implement its recommended discipline (which is reserved for the police commissioner).  Seeking independence, the board rankled the law department sufficiently enough that solicitor Andre Davis backed down from ordering BPD to withhold all case files for four months as a lawsuit pended.

Allowing life-altering citizen complaints to expire is a known practice by the internal affairs division (IAD) renamed this summer Public Integrity Bureau (PIB). Major Stephanie Lansey-Delgado sent an email in April 2018 to supervisors that the department had “not been aggressive” getting cases investigated before the one year expiration date, as continuing story from Kevin Rector, reporter for Baltimore Sun.

In its public meetings, officers’ names are confidential per departmental policy regarding personnel matters and CRB does not disclose complainants’ identification.

As for the complaint CRB accepted regarding an independent investigation into the retaliatory arrest, the 28-year old man who was arrested after he commented to an officer,  was arrested again- mere hours after his release. His CRB complaint claims the retaliatory arrest was harassment for bringing to light abusive behavior.

Although the parties’ identities were not disclosed at the meeting, it is pretty safe to presume the case involved 24-year veteran Sgt Ethan Newberg who told Lee Dotson to “take his charges like a man” when Newberg arrested Dotson for commenting on police activity as he passed by.

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Police Commissioner Michael Harrison in a late night June 2019 presser along with State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the officer’s arrest on second degree assault charges. He also released BWC footage showing officers chasing and tackling Dotson.

Newberg was released from custoday and is awaiting trial.

Murder By Numbers: Policing in Baltimore Just Doesn’t Add Up

Prologue:  Baltimore Police are cornered. After the uprising sparked by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, the Department retaliated by purposely neglecting neighborhoods they deem to be not worthy of police protection by what they ironically called taking a knee. In one of those areas, Harlem Park, Det. Sean Suiter was shot in the head and left for dead in 2017. Police face scrutiny from Baltimore’s Office of Civil Rights and the ACLU when it suspended the Constitution by preventing free movement in this residential area for nearly a week. Top brass rationalized the move as necessary to catch a vaguely described black man wearing a black jacket. The case is still unsolved despite a record setting $215,000 reward.

Nudged in between 2015 (Gray) and 2017 (Suiter) one murder victim went largely noticed.  However, the case emerged from the shadows, in March 2018 when parents took their concerns to the regular monthly meeting of the Civilian Review Board. Just so happens, representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice were in attendance and took a keen interest in the case of Greg Riddick. After tearful testimony and an enraged Board at a May 2018 CRB meeting, the Board issued its blistering findings – willfully exceeding its authority due to the atrocities its investigation uncovered. 

PART I: What follows shows what happens when civilians have a say in policing and why clearly Baltimore police are utterly incapable of policing themselves.

 

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Gregory Riddick’s parents learned of their son’s death like countless many others in Baltimore.

They logged onto to Murder Ink.

No one from BPD called the family about recovering Greg’s body.  There was no late night knock on the door. Nor did the family themselves call around to hospitals or their local precinct.  That stuff only happens in the movies.

In this instance, Baltimore’s latest murder victim was not identified by name, but by number. The report stated  a 26-year old male died of gunshot wounds in the area where Gregg was last known to have been. It was with the announcement on Murder Ink,  the family’s tug of war with the all mighty and powerful Baltimore City Police Department began.

“They didn’t ask me to come down and ID my son or nothing,” said Riddick.  “The next time I saw my son was in the funeral home.”

Greg Trill
Gregory E. Riddick, Jr

Justice at this point seems to be too big of an ask. Each day local television, social media and The Baltimore Sun tallies up people’s sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, fathers and friends as if they were counting Chicklets out of a gumball machine.

Save the rare novelty of a victim who was also an honor roll student, a grandmother or young child, mainstream media fails to show the humanity of the lives lost, the suffering of the community, and more likely than not these days, the role that BPD played.

Murder Ink, the lifeline for much of Baltimore, didn’t tell the whole story, of course. Maintained by the alt-weekly City Paper, crime victims relied upon its community-centered reporting.  Reporters filled in details where outlets like The Sun fell short.

Predictably, mainstream media only told the police’s version.  Greg Riddick Jr. was shot, yes.  But he was also ran over and dragged over 1,000 feet, in full view of police officers, a innocent bystander who became a witnesses, and even to those of us listening/reading the 9 1-1 call.

There’s one  significant detail BPD didn’t release to the media that became the catalyst for one Baltimore’s family to become mourner-activists. Police were on the scene at the shooting. Neither officer made a move to secure the crime scene, call in the shooting, or do what the civilian did when he saw a man suffering – come to his aid.

 

Riddick Sr.’s strong Christian faith and the determination of everyone who loved Greg is what that propels them all to push for answers and accountability of the Baltimore City Police Department.

For an emergency, dial 9 1-1

This murder story begins with 9 1-1 call regarding shots fired and ends with a horror one cannot imagine.  The tape is likely to haunt all not lulled to sleep by the silent counting of those who lost their lives to the proliferation of guns and the ineffectiveness of the Baltimore Police Department. It all happened in front of witnesses, and it was captured on video surveillance.

“I am on Harford Road and Homestead. Uh, somebody just got shot in front of me,” said the caller on the 9 1-1 tape.

These are the words of the Good Samaritan traveling home about 1 am after visiting an ailing family member. His identity is being shielded as the investigation is ongoing and because, well, it’s Baltimore.

It was his first words spoken to the 9 1-1 operator.   It details the eyewitness’ account, establishes the presence of BPD at the scene, and gives a real time accounting of the hit and run that would follow after Riddick was shot.

Riddick Sr. first heard the 9 1-1 tape alone.  He heard a male caller describe how he saw a car speed away after a shooting.  And that the victim was laying in the middle of the street.  The witness recollects first trying to get the police’s attention before resorting to calling 9 1-1.

He finds the man’s efforts and experiences to be both horrific and at the same time comforting.  A complete stranger stood near his son to provide comfort and security.

“The man. He didn’t have to stop,” Riddick said.

For Annette Gibson, Greg’s mother, the discussion of the tape and the officers’ lack of action stirs up a full range of emotions.

“I couldn’t, [listen]” Gibson said through tearful sobs. “I don’t want to hear it.”

At first despondent, then determined, suddenly angry and back to sobbing she relives the events of earier that day.  Greg had arrived in Baltimore earlier that day to pack. He was moving out of the city and the dangers that he was no stranger to.

Before hanging up with the 9 1-1 dispatch, the witness final words were prophetic.

“Yes, the police are here,” said the eyewitness. “They’re taking care of it.”

9 11 Tape Transcript

One answer Greg’s family wants to know is whether the officers at the car stop had Body Worn Cameras (BWC).  A new BWC policy was implemented shortly after Gray’s widely publicized death because of explainable circumstances clouded his in custody death, eroding what little trust existed between the majority of the city’s residents and the 3000+ member force of sworn police officers.

The voice on 9 1-1 tape captures the fear many black men feel in the city. Along with the literal and figurative distance victims and witness alike experience as detached police officers pursue a traffic stop while ignoring a desperate man’s attempt to flag down assistance.

Believing half of what you see and none of what you hear.

There appears to be two sources of video that could have captured both the shooting and the hit and run. One is the owned by the liquor store on the corner and the other is the surveillance system, Citi Watch, operated by Baltimore City Police.

“[BPD] didn’t show me the one on the pole, that’s on the street, said Riddick. The family believes a video exists that would capture the exact location of the police during the traffic stop and why they both didn’t see or hear the shots that the witness did from inside his car.  It would also verify the witness’s account that police ignored his request to help the gunshot victim, prompting him to call 9 1-1 instead.

Pressing for an arrest, the homicide detective initially assigned to the case, Det. Joshua Fuller, met with the family for an update on the investigation. Fuller showed Riddick the footage from the store. Two men are seen creeping along side of the liquor store lying in wait for Greg to get to the corner. Based on conversation Greg was having on the phone, Riddick believed family members would be able to identify the shooters.

No one has responded to the family’s request for Citi Watch footage. It appears that the camera is positioned perfectly to capture the assailants who crept up on Greg from Homestead as he was walking along Harford Road.

Harford Road and Homestead

“[The family] came to I.D. [the shooters], but Fuller wouldn’t do it,” Riddick said.

According to police, while waiting to view the video, BPD overheard a conversation that concerned them about potential retaliation.  As a result, the only family member who was then allowed to see the video was Riddick, Sr.  He was not able to make a positive identification.

“Fuller’s supervisor told him not to (make the arrest ) because of retaliation.” Greg’s family believes something more sinister is at work.  They are seeking the medical examiner’s report to determine the exact cause of death.  If Greg could have survived the bullets but died because of the injuries sustained when the car ran him over, they believe Baltimore City Police have reason enough to stave off the investigation.

“I went down to Internal Affairs and filed paperwork.”  A common public misconception is that IAD is an independent body charged with investigating complaints against the police.

“I told them the whole story. So I figured that OK, Internal affairs. They gonna investigate. They’re not on the police side,” said Riddick.

It then became a waiting game.

“I guess they was hoping that the eight months that the paperwork was just sitting there on his desk that I would just let it go, but I wasn’t going to let it go,” Riddick said.  “Then I got a letter from [Ian] Dombrowski … that they didn’t find anything.”

The head of IAD at the time -then Deputy Commissioner Ian Dombrowki was fingered by convicted BPD officers from the now defunct Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) squad during a 2018 federal corruption and robbery trial of tipping off officers that the feds were watching. He has since been demoted to major.

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Major Ian Dombrowski

His boss, the head of the department overseeing IAD, Deputy Commissioner Rodney Hill, retired shortly after the GTTF trial ended.

After IAD notified the family that it found no wrongdoing on the part of Baltimore Police in Greg’s murder, the homicide detective leading the investigation, Det. Fuller resigned from BPD, said Riddick.  It would take months before the family would meet the new lead investigator Jill Beauregard-Navarro.

She would make headlines in The Baltimore Sun in May 2018 for what prominent defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon would call “putting bodies on bodies.” BPD, facing mounting unsolved murders, has cleared record numbers by fingering a dead person as the likely the suspect – case solved.  If more could be done to drag Greg’s memory for his family, it would be if such an atrocity happened.

When one door closes…

Had Riddick known to have asked, he would been told that IAD rarely sustains complaints of police misconduct. With Gregg Riddick’s death, the membership into a club no one wants to belong to grew by dozens. The friends and families of victims of gun violence quickly become students of not just the intricacies and bureaucracy that accompany police investigations but receive an up close and personal view of the purported Wall of Silence.

The family stands alone.  No one in BPD or the State’s Attorney’s Office has told them that the two officers who were citing a traffic violation while Greg was being shot and later ran by over by a car did anything wrong.

When BPD didn’t find any wrongdoing with the two officers who seemingly were preoccupied with a traffic stop and not with a gunshot victim, the Riddick family filed a CRB Complaint form_2 with the Baltimore Office of Civil Rights’ Civilian Review Board.

A well respected community leader, Delegate Jill Carter left Annapolis in early 2017 to rejuvenate the Civilian Review Board as she took the helm of the Office of Civil Rights. Community members appointed by the commission and approved by the Mayor represent each of the BPD nine districts.  By statute they can subpoena witnesses, view police files, and investigate complaints. What they cannot do is mete out punishment to offending officers.

The Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBR) from the 1970s establishes protocols for police accused of misconduct and criminal activity. Over the years, as cries of police abuses have increased, the protections afforded by the LEOBR has largely stayed the same.  The CRB is handcuffed. The board of citizens can only investigate on claims against officers in five categories: Excessive Force, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, Harassment and Abusive Language.

Although the circumstances of Greg’s death didn’t not fit the definitions that by statue limit CRB’s purview, they took the complaint as a “harassment” claim and investigated the case.

“It breaks my heart, really really to read that whole situation,” said board member George Buntin, Wester District representative.  “The harassment is not there.”

Appalled at even the failure to control the crime scene, the board’s frustration with their limitations was evident. The board met in March CRB Minutes and initially struggled with making a determination of the complaint designated as harassment.

“It’s hard to stretch any of our jurisdiction to what happened here. Can we call it harassment? I don’t think so,” said member Mel Currie, Southwestern district.  “The Civilian Review Board, what I think we should be is.. .we would be the counterpart to Internal Affairs. We should be External Affairs.” Currie said.

As the board began to debate not sustaining the harassment claim, silent tears began to fall from Greg’s grandmother’s eyes.  She was given a box of tissues.  Greg Riddick, Sr was given the opportunity to talk.

For five minutes, a father implored the Board to not let homicide number 299 from 2016 become a historical statistic. His moving account of the circumstances of the 26-year old’s murder had seasoned Board members holding their heads in their hand and lawyers wiping at their eyes.

His sometimes wavering voice full of emotion carried much further that day because unbeknownst to him, representatives from the Department of Justice were in the audience. Video from the meeting can be viewed here around the 32 minute mark.

Justice for Greg is not likely to come from BPD, the SAO, the media or even the DOJ.  It’ll happen when citizens like those on the CRB have the power to decide what behaviors they will and will not accept by the officers that roam the street.

CRB envisions itself having a different process in handling complaints where the public is negatively impacted by police action.  The current process requires complainants to check a box accusing officers of a specific violation.  The Board then deliberates and decides whether or not the stated accusation is upheld.

CRB chairman Bridall Pearson suggested a better process where the event is described by the complainant and the board then arrives at the label of the associated violation.

“If we have a process like that, there’s something we could do about [Riddick’s complaint],” said Pearson.  “In this situation it’s difficult, because our hands are tied.”

 

 

Next Up: Part II The Medical Examiner, Healing and Advocacy

 

 

 

The Case for Disbanding BPD

The emotions swirling around the search for a solution to the ills of Baltimore Police Department range from disillusionment to detachment.  Politicians favor the nonstarter debate of turning state control of the department over to the city. Others seek to disband BPD in the mode of Camden N.J., not knowing exactly why Camden is not a model to follow.

Simply put, Baltimore cannot do what Camden did, but not for the reasons you might think.

First though, consider this undeniable fact. We all suspect Baltimore’s Police Department is rotten to the core.  It might not be.  But in this case, perception is reality.

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Sketch drawing by Tom Chalkley of former police detective Momodu Gondo in orange jumpsuit as witness against his co-defendants, fellow police officers.

A law enforcement department requires the trust and compliance of those it serves to recognize its power. Baltimore Police has bankrupted any small reserve of goodwill that remained after the death of Freddie Gray and its subsequent “investigation.”

It has only been days since the guilty verdicts of police officers who were running a robbery, extortion and drug dealing operation – but only while in uniform. The Gun Trace Task Force cloaked as an “elite” special operations squad, instead served themselves mostly conspiring to steal overtime while committing heinous crimes.

Regrettably, a choreographed cacophony of warmed over questions from the media and canned responses from those in power, reflected none of the urgency that those awaiting the verdict expected and experienced.

“Journalists” asked:

  • “What does this mean for BPD?”
  • “How does BPD move forward after the verdicts?”
  • Are you satisfied with the verdicts?
  • Does the government expect more indictments?

People watching were asking:

  • What the fuck?
  • Why not just start over from scratch?

Disgust, Disband, Discard

After hearing in harsh detail how the department serves as a racketeering front for a criminal enterprise requires more sobering questions. The verdict from Monday, February 12th confirmed what many people have been shouting about only to have their cries fall on deaf ears.  Baltimore Police Department is a criminal enterprise.

An impartial group of 12 Marylanders:  eight white women, one Asian woman and three black men unanimously found 2 officers guilty of knowing taking part in a conspiracy to using their power as membership in the Baltimore City Police Department to carry out their crimes.  The jury was pulled from the state and not merely from Baltimore City.

Let’s not forget that six other officers told a judge they are guilty and decided to forgo any pretense of a trial.  These officers had shown up for work on the day they were arrested. They were not on desk duty as punishment for any bad behavior.  These officers were not home, suspended while complaints were being investigated.  They were armed with guns and unfettered power up until the second the feds stepped in.

The jury has spoken: Baltimore Police Department cannot police itself.

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

While President Abraham Lincoln coined the phrase in 1858 during his campaign, it bears remembering that it was in 1860 that Maryland took over the Baltimore Police Department with the help of a radical group of nationalists. Most will recall that Baltimore was a stronghold for the Union, but the state of Maryland was generally considered a Confederate sympathizer.

” Dear Maryland General Assembly, the Civil War is over, and the North won. It’s time to give Baltimore its police department back.” – Councilman Brandon Scott

-Baltimore Sun OP-ED February 28, 2017

The Know-Nothing Party, with it’s “America First” rally cries captured only but a single state, Maryland, with it’s presidential push. It is certainly time to be on the right side of history and reject the sole success of the xenophobic party (the shame of Maryland) and return control of the state’s most diverse city to the people who live here.

The most radical proposal to date simply does not go far enough.  There have been calls to move control from the state legislature to Baltimore City Council. Impassioned activists spoke to city council in 2016.  However, House Bill 1504 designed to do just that, died in committee in March 2017.

In support of the bill, Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott and Maryland State Delegate Curt Anderson penned an editorial pointing out the “insanity of the Baltimore Police Department being a state agency” in announcing legislation designed to put the department under the city’s control. This was the concern before it was confirmed the BPD was acting as a front for an organized crime syndicate.

Camden is not a Model City

Reorganizing Baltimore Police by disbanding the existing structure and creating a new citizen-led organization has no model to follow.  Police departments have disband due to cost and duplication of services, resulting in a consolidation.

The City of Camden is often brought up by media as a praiseworthy example of a high crime area that turned itself around by disbanding its police.  But for many reasons, it is not a model to be used for Baltimore.  Camden City Police department for all intents and purposes was folded into an existing agency, the Camden County Police Department.

 

The City of Camden along with others in the county such as Bellmawr, Cherry Hill, Collinswood, Haddon Township and Gloucester Township all are municipalities and have had their own police departments since about 1920s.  Most disbands in NJ is a result of consolidation due to costs of very small departments.

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Politically, state officials had wrestled all power from the city.  In a party tug of war, newly elected Republican Governor Chris Christie was on the surface at least, battling with South Jersey political bosses.  Economic strife impacted Camden’s descisions and similar downturns had Atlantic City considering the same.

An important distinction for Baltimore, that it is an independent municipality and is not seated within a county  (such as being a part of Baltimore County), which  makes it unique.  The city cannot simply use Camden as it model, as it has no county police force to absorb it.

Other factors make what Camden did not comparable to Baltimore, not the least of which are wide variations in population size, budget, demands, not to mention political will to merge BPD even with either Baltimore County Police or Maryland State Police.

The Way Forward

Reaction to the verdicts should be prioritized as follows:

  1. The people
  2. The state legislature
  3. The governor
  4. The mayor
  5. The police commissioner

The people’s voice must be heard. Before any decision is made, and before the mayor and other politicians toss ideas in the trash, recognition of the harm police have done would show respect to the victims.  It might also provide a path forward.

A leader would first listen to the people.  Go to them. Don’t ask them to come to you.  Ask what kind of policing they want to see.  If it’s a 12 or 24 member commission of civilians that run the department, then make it happen. If it’s keeping the department, but turning its reigns over to Baltimore City Council, then work tirelessly to get it done. Both Governor Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh must show clear leadership in the most important aspect of their position: public safety.

“The legislature’s control over the Baltimore Police Department is an anachronism that serves no purpose at a time when city residents are demanding accountability and rapid reform. Whether the remedy involves a passing a law clarifying the City Council’s authority to legislate on police matters or taking the department out of the state’s purview altogether, the situation needs to change.”

Baltimore Sun Editorial September 17, 2016

One way forward is to take advantage of the powers contained in the entity created by the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation resulting in a Consent Decree.  This court order establishes the Community Oversight Task Force (COTF) which is charged with making recommendations to ensure community input as the department includes civilian oversight into its reform process.

The COTF is expected to bring forth its recommendations by March 2018, in time to communicate with the community and make changes before it has to submit its report to the court in June 2018.

Consider that the work the committee has put forth largely took place in 2017, well before the trial and subsequent verdicts.  It likely will focus on returning power and control of BPD to the city, revising the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBR), and creating an oversight mechanism to hear and rule on citizen complaints.

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From the Department of Justice Consent Decree with Baltimore City Police Department

In short, the COTF recommendations will be reactionary and more importantly likely ignored or discarded.  It’s reactionary mostly because of timing.  Had this group of hard working citizens convened the day after the GTTF trial, they might be more amenable to the recommending disbanding.   It’s not too late though, armed a new vision members could take a new approach.  COTF could pull a Glenn Close and drop the equivalent of the dead rabbit in the state’s boiling pot.

ignored dan

Why ignored?  It will ask for investigatory powers and the staff to do it.  It will distance itself from the existing Citizen Review Board (CRB) that Del. Jill Carter has artfully resuscitated life into.  It will ask for things that can be shot down like ducks in a row.  Subpoena powers that come with exorbitant costs, even if awarded cannot be utilized without a trained staff. Any substantive changes to LEOBR will fall on deaf ears.

The unions negotiating with Baltimore Police simply will not have it. But the union doesn’t have an existing agreement with the yet to be formed Baltimore Police Commission.  Expect immediate and harsh pushback of all FOPs in the state if there is an iota of a chance there is political backing of disbanding for Baltimore.

Baltimore isn’t the first entity in Maryland that suffered from blistering reports of misconduct, mismanagement and racial profiling.

In 2001, a task force addressed many of the same problems within the Prince George’s County Police Department. Crime in PG county made national headline news in the 1990s resulting in a 2004 Consent Decree with the Department of Justice.  Three guesses as to what the initial barrier to reform was in their report.  And you can guess if they are still waiting.

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Prince George’s County Task Force Recommendation