Bodycams undermine Baltimore police trust
BALTIMORE | The Baltimore Police Department is having a tough time restoring public confidence in the troubled agency.
The city is on pace to break its decades-old murder record, and the body camera program that was rolled out to increase transparency has fueled allegations of misconduct after a pair of problematic videos recently surfaced.
The videos come about two years after the death of a young black man in police custody thrust the department into turmoil and set off unrest throughout the city. Freddie Gray’s death led to the firing of the police chief, a Justice Department investigation that found longstanding patterns of discrimination and abuse and a court-enforceable order to change.
“We wouldn’t be under a consent decree if we didn’t have issues,” police Commissioner Kevin Davis said earlier this year at a news conference announcing the federal indictment of seven gun squad officers. They had been caught on a wiretap working together to rob and illegally detain citizens.
At least 39 cases involving the officers were dismissed, and city prosecutor Marilyn Mosby agreed to review convictions in cases involving those officers dating back to 2015.
Since he was appointed in 2015, Commissioner Davis has pledged his commitment to ridding the department of corruption but has said the process will take time. “I’ve said on more than one occasion: Good cops hate to work with bad cops,” he said.
The allegations of wrongdoing keep coming. In late July Ms. Mosby announced that her office had dismissed 34 cases that relied almost exclusively on the testimony of one or more officers in a recently released bodycam video. That video shows an officer placing a bag of pills inside a soup can in an alley, then walking out to the street to meet two other officers. The first officer then turns around, walks back into the alley and picks up the bag.
Those officers are involved in about 120 cases in all, Ms. Mosby said.