Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Baltimore unveils plan to combat police misconduct

A report about police misconduct, "Preventing Harm" recommends that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts increase staff in the internal affairs division, which handles allegations of misconduct, and study the body camera issue. Batts also wants to negotiate with the police union to get wider authority to quickly punish rogue cops, reported the Baltimore Sun.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the 41-page report outlines their plans. The report was released as the U.S. Department of Justice prepares for a months-long review of brutality allegations.
Batts and other police leaders have been "reforming the internal discipline process so that bad actors are punished and bad cops are fired," the report says. "The best way to prevent abuse is to train on its use, circumscribe it with rules, and enforce the rules. When bad actors have impunity, the good cops become demoralized and the bad ones are emboldened."
The report cites a six-month Sun investigation showing that residents have suffered battered faces and broken bones during arrests. The city has paid $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements in 102 civil suits since 2011, The Sun found, and nearly all of the people involved in the incidents leading to those lawsuits were cleared of criminal charges.
The investigation also showed that some officers have been sued multiple times over allegations of brutality, and that the city did not track those lawsuits in a comprehensive way until this year.
Batts said public trust is vital to keep the city safe and that the department is moving in the right direction. Many agency policies were outdated or needed major changes, he said.
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