Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dysfunction at Baltimore Police Dept

from The League: Reassembled

Severe dysfunction at the Baltimore Police Department continued to come to light this morning with a Washington Post report that "hundreds of criminal cases may have to be dropped as a result of a widening police misconduct investigation that has already led to the suspensions of seven officers, a probe that began when a woman reported that she was sexually assaulted last month in a police station."

The investigation stems from an alleged incident that illustrates the disturbing culture in many police headquarters:

On Dec. 27, the three officers handcuffed the woman and an 18-year-old female associate near Old Frederick Road, according to the affidavits. Back at the station, Shaffer and Hatley took the teenager to wait in a cruiser while Jones remained in the offices with the 22-year-old woman, the affidavits say.

"What are you willing to do to stay out of jail?" Jones said, according to the affidavits.

Jones allegedly [sexually] assaulted the woman twice and then brought her to the cruiser, the affidavits say. The women were provided with a bag of marijuana and dropped in the city, the affidavits say.


A search of the unit's offices turned up cocaine and marijuana used to plant on innocent Baltimoreans to make false arrests.

The incident is one in an alarming pattern of dysfunction in the Police Department. A legislative hearing held last week revealed widespread reports of illegal arrests, a Baltimore Sun investigation documented widespread abuse of the anti-Fourth Amendment "stop-and-frisk" tactic, and it was recently exposed that the NSA used Baltimore police to spy on local peace activists.

Commissioner Leonard Hamm has failed to create a climate sensitive to the needs of the community. Instead, he has allowed the force to deteriorate into an abusive department that lends itself out as a pawn to spy on Baltimoreans. If the current investigation into the rape, the legislative inquiry into illegal arrests, and other information surfaces, the current state of our Police Department could well become a liability for Mayor Martin O'Malley in his bid to become governor.

from The League: Reassembled

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