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As Police Training Resumes, Commissioner Says ‘Breakdown In System Can’t Happen Again’

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Major Joseph Smith

Major Joseph Smith

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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OWINGS Mills, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore’s top cop is demanding a sweeping review of how weapons are used after a shooting during a training exercise.

Mike Hellgren has more on the new call for action.

The commissioner says there was a breakdown in the system. But one week after this tragic shooting, police have yet to provide a full account of what led to it.

Police acknowledge protocols were not followed when a training officer struck his trainee in the head. Sources tell WJZ the officer mistook his service weapon with the training weapon during an exercise that was not properly supervised.

The commissioner says he’s visited the trainee’s hospital bed several times and doctors say he’s progressing better than expected.

“This weapon that we carry on our hips, they are not toys. They are not here for games. They are not here for playtime,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

Following the shooting, police named a new director for the police academy and suspended six officers. Training resumed on a limited basis, but not with firearms.

“In my 30 years, I have seen it too many times, way too many times. We have learned from those lessons. We have protocols here that were not followed,” Batts said.

Right now, state police are conducting a criminal investigation and they say that could take several weeks. The commissioner says those suspensions include everyone involved in the chain of command.

WJZ’s investigation also found a lack of staffing and supervision, and that leadership didn’t even know the old Rosewood Hospital where this happened was being used for training.

“We will peel back that onion with the goal of never, ever having a situation like that happening here again,” said Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez.

Police also made management changes, bringing in Major Joseph Smith to run the academy, which only now resumed instruction.

“Arrest and control techniques, tactics and firearms—that will be postponed until I look at all of the policies,” Smith said.

The trainee who was injured works for the University of Maryland Baltimore police department. He was in critical condition at last check.

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