BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A policing commission said Baltimore city police lacks the ability to detect and punish officer misconduct.
The Commission To Restore Public Trust In Policing was created to get to the bottom the corruption in the Gun Trace Task Force and how it went unchecked for so long.
Several members of the GTTF, an elite city police unit, were convicted of corruption. Its effects of mistrust and civil lawsuits are still being felt.
A 184-page document released on Dec. 2 lays out what went wrong and how to better prevent future corruption at the city police department.
“What was the agency doing to detect this? What was the agency doing to deter this?” said Sean Malone, a commission member.
Malone said Baltimore Police Department’s current leadership is on the right track. But, internal affairs complaints against the corrupt GTTF members piled up. Two of the officers had twenty or more internal affairs complaints.
“Why were these officers even allowed into a unit with such freedom when many of them had complaints in the double digits from citizens?” asked Malone.
The commission recommended a series of accountability efforts, like polygraphs, audits and integrity stings. It urged lawmakers update the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill Of Rights to streamline investigations and better hold officers accountable.
The commission said the general assembly should update the law to make certain misconduct complaints public.
“I think we need to open the doors more for people to peer into the vault and see what the records of these officers are,” said Jim Robey, a former Howard County Police Chief.
The GTTF operated as a plainclothes unit. The commission said BPD should update its policy to ensure officers are clearly identified.
“The Baltimore city police department’s current policy does not go far enough,” said Gary McLhinney, a former MTA police chief.
Only one of the GTTF members agreed to talk with the commission and did so confidentially.
The commission also tried, unsuccessfully, to interview the unit’s sergeant Wayne Jenkins, who is serving 25 years. The report showed Jenkins had an agent representing him in anticipation of a movie and he would only talk to the commission if they supported a reduction in his prison sentence.
Commissioner Malone said reform ultimately rests with leadership.
“The hiring, the training, the discipline and the intervention with police officers,” Malone said. “Police officers aren’t the problem. The problem rests with command staff.”
The report concluded that city police “lacked systems of accountability designed to deter, detect, and punish officer misconduct” and “didn’t make it a priority.”
The department, it continued, still “under-emphasizes integrity and accountability.”
Read the full report below or clicking here.