Baltimore Residents Question Police Department’s Credibility After Recent Scandals
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A string of police scandals inside the Baltimore City Police Department is leading to questions about leadership, credibility and if there is a pattern of bad behavior.
Mike Hellgren has more from the community and lawmakers.
These troubling cases come at a critical time for the police department which is in the midst of a transition at the top.
Several scandals are rocking the Baltimore City Police Department, including an investigation that two patrol commanders abused overtime and perjury charges against an officer who prosecutors claim shot himself in a garage near police headquarters.
They also include the resignation of the director of police training brought in just six months ago. Add to that Commissioner Fred Bealefeld’s retirement sparking leadership questions: Who will clean this up?
Sharon Black has been in East Baltimore almost 40 years and is concerned the community is being shut out from the selection of the next top cop.
“Very bad. We think it’s outrageous actually, not just bad,” she said. “It’s also about policy. It’s not just about the individual. We’re looking at the whole package.”
But there are a number of people in the community who support the current policing strategies and point to huge reductions in the murder rate over the past few years.
One Johns Hopkins criminal justice expert told WJZ he does not see a pattern of corruption because these are isolated cases across many levels of the department.
“Independent audits have to happen,” Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes said.
Stokes wants more transparency pointing out that scandal erodes trust.
“I am concerned as many citizens are about what turmoil there may be,” he said. “By and large, the men and women of the police department are decent, committed, caring individuals. We need a police commissioner who’s going to restore confidence and trust and integrity into the police department.”
As for the mayor, she’s not saying anything about this. Her office told WJZ not only that she was not available for an interview but also that she does not comment on any police personnel issues anyway.
Police have said in the past that these cases illustrate their push to root out corruption.