Are Arrest Quotas Leading To Questionable Behavior On Bodycam Video?

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than 500 cases have now been impacted by investigations into Baltimore Police Department officers’ actions caught on body cameras.

WJZ has learned more about a third body-worn camera video that has public defenders criticizing the state’s attorney’s office for playing politics with their clients.

Some say pressure to make arrests could be driving the questionable behavior made by officers.

WJZ obtained an internal police email from a commander that appears to show pressure on officers to make statistics, car stops, and turn up warrants.

Some are wondering if it’s actions like that that are behind some of the questionable behavior seen on video.

Another day, and more cases have been dropped.

It’s likely fallout from a third questionable body camera video, but police and prosecutors are keeping the details so secret, even defense attorneys don’t know.

“They don’t want to tell us who the officers are,” said public defender Deborah Katz Levi. “We should assume that they are an officer on each and every case in the city of Baltimore.”

The third video has yet to be made public, unlike two others, where officers are facing allegations they planted evidence.

The Public Defenders Office is blasting the state’s attorney for failing to name any officers involved in this third video.

“Is the motivation to appease the public because the state’s attorney is an elected official?,” Katz Levi asked.

The officer self reported the latest video on August 2, allegedly re-enacting the seizure of evidence.

That’s the same day Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis held a press conference to discuss one of the other body camera videos in question.

But what would be the motivation for planting evidence or re-enacting?

One source pointed WJZ to an internal email from a Baltimore PD lieutenant dated May 2016.

It reads, in part, “Every two hours, you are to collect the stats from each officer,” warning that officers “can’t have done nothing.”

“Hold them accountable,” it says.

Leading some to worry if the pressure to make arrests is leading to questionable actions on camera.

“So we know there are some internal pressures for officers to reach a certain amount of arrests, and we thought those days had passed,” Katz Levi said.

Police say this is not about arrest quotas. They say that commander just wants to make sure his officers are meeting their directives and wants to make sure they’re held accountable.

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