Mosby pro­poses re­forms in prob­ing po­lice mis­con­duct

Plan in­cludes giv­ing po­lice pow­ers to in­ves­ti­ga­tors for state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­tor@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/rec­tor­sun

Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby pro­posed a slate of re­forms Thurs­day for in­ves­ti­gat­ing and prose­cut­ing po­lice of­fi­cers ac­cused of mis­con­duct, cit­ing her fail­ure to con­vict a sin­gle of­fi­cer in the Fred­die Gray case as her mo­ti­va­tion.

“Equal­ity must be a felt real­ity” in Bal­ti­more, said Mosby, adding that her pro­posed re­forms — in­clud­ing giv­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors in her of­fice po­lice pow­ers and pros­e­cu­tors the right to re­ject a crim­i­nal de­fen­dant’s re­quest for a bench trial — would go a long way to­ward lev­el­ing the play­ing field be­tween reg­u­lar cit­i­zens and po­lice of­fi­cers ac­cused of sim­i­lar of­fenses.

Mosby said she had chal­lenged a “long-stand­ing pro­tec­tive norm” in charg­ing the six Bal­ti­more of­fi­cers in Gray’s ar­rest and death, and ended up learn­ing “hard, valu­able and chal­leng­ing lessons” about the need for in­sti­tu­tional change.

Gray, 25, died a week af­ter suf­fer­ing spinal in­juries in the back of a po­lice trans­port van in April 2015. Three of­fi­cers were ac­quit­ted of charges in­clud­ing mis­con­duct in of­fice, man­slaugh­ter and mur­der, and charges were dropped against the other three.

Mosby said her pro­pos­als, pro­duced af­ter “con­ven­ing and con­sult­ing pros­e­cu­tors around the coun­try,” were aimed at “open­ing a di­a­logue about the role that pros­e­cu­tors, po­lice and com­mu­nity mem­bers play when cit­i­zens are se­ri­ously in­jured or killed dur­ing in­ter­ac­tions with po­lice de­part­ments.”

“Hav­ing learned the hard way through first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence, when al­le­ga­tions of po­lice mis­con­duct arise, pros­e­cu­tors are seen too of­ten as pro­tec­tive of po­lice and un­likely to pros­e­cute cases of wrong­do­ing,” Mosby said dur­ing an an­nounce­ment at Cop­pin State Univer­sity.

The first of Mosby’s pro­pos­als calls for re­plac­ing the Po­lice Depart­ment’s Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Re­sponse Team, which re­sponds to all in­ci­dents in which of­fi­cers use sig­nif­i­cant force, with a “col­lab­o­ra­tive in­ves­tiga­tive team” made up of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor from her of­fice, a Mary­land State Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor and a Civil­ian Re­view Board in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

An­other pro­posal calls for the cross­des­ig­na­tion of fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors as po­ten­tial part­ners in bring­ing state charges against po­lice of­fi­cers, while an­other calls for the im­me­di­ate in­clu­sion of at least two cit­i­zens on trial boards that hear of­fi­cer mis­con­duct charges at the ad­min­is­tra­tive level. The lat­ter has been a top pri­or­ity of ac­tivists in Bal­ti­more but op­posed by the po­lice union.

In re­sponse to the pro­pos­als, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said in a state­ment that his depart­ment “will con­sider all rec­om­men­da­tions that serve to im­prove our pro­cesses and en­hance our rep­u­ta­tion in the com­mu­nity.”

The like­li­hood of Mosby’s pro­pos­als be­ing adopted or turned into law is un­clear, though some would face an up­hill bat­tle in An­napo­lis.

At­tor­neys for the of­fi­cers charged in the Gray case have pre­vi­ously bris­tled at Mosby’s sug­ges­tion that the out­come of the cases may have been dif­fer­ent if fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors were in charge and could force a jury trial rather than a bench trial.

“Quite hon­estly, I think all of us would have wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to try this case in front of a fed­eral jury,” said Cather­ine Flynn, an at­tor­ney for Of­fi­cer Gar­rett Miller, whose charges were dropped.

KEVIN RICHARDSON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Bal­ti­more City State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby speaks Thurs­day at Cop­pin State Univer­sity about her pol­icy re­form pro­pos­als for in­ves­ti­gat­ing and prose­cut­ing po­lice mis­con­duct.

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