BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two years into the job, top cop Anthony Batts is working overtime to restore trust in his police force after recent scandals rock the department.
Vic Carter hits the streets with the commissioner, who’s working to keep his job and make Baltimore safer.
As Baltimore’s top cop walks the streets with WJZ, he talks about his determination to make Baltimore safer and his commitment to restore trust in police.
It’s a particularly steep challenge after several scandals rock the department.
An officer busted for protecting a drug dealer, another charged with attempted murder and two 20-year veterans accused of slitting a dog’s throat—now Commissioner Anthony Batts is fighting to win back the people’s trust in police.
“I will not tolerate anything that brings scandal upon this organization. What I can do and have done is set the vision for the organization. If they step outside of that, they will be and have been and will continue to be held to a higher standard,” Batts said.
There still seems to be a pervasive feeling among prosecutors, judges and citizens that it’s difficult to get a successful prosecution and conviction because of perceived distrust from citizens toward police.
“Part of what we’re doing where there may be a controversial issue is going out front and saying `We made a mistake; this is how we’re curing it.’ That’s building trust. Standing before officers in a community and saying I will not tolerate misconduct—that’s building trust,” Batts said.
But is it working?
East Baltimore community leader Leon Purnell says one bad cop does a lot of damage.
“One of the bad things about it is because of the work of some fools, they pretty much tarnished the entire force. Now the trust level for the police department is little to none,” Purnell said.
Batts is tackling trust one neighborhood at a time.
“We’re not going in with heavy-handed police tactics. We’re bringing advocates for homeless, drug abuse, different types of services and we’re working together to cure problems as a whole,” Batts said.
Batts points to positive results.
WJZ obtained the latest numbers from police, which reveal that this year, violent crime is down 16 percent, homicides are down 9 percent, shootings are down 12 percent and robberies are down 17 percent.
“That’s not up to me. I don’t give myself a grade. I can tell you that Baltimore is my home now; this is where I live; this is where I give my time. I have faith in this city; I have faith in this police department,” Batts said. “This is what’s important.”
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