BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Maryland lawmakers passed legislation to investigate a corrupt Baltimore police unit Monday, the last day of the 2018 General Assembly.
The Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force lied, robbed from citizens, and in some cases, sold drugs without fear.
The Maryland General Assembly has passed the Restore Trust in Policing Commission. They would be able to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony to investigate how the officers were able to get away with their crimes, and who enabled them.
The new bill requires the governor’s signature, and he seemed favorable. The measure passed both chambers unanimously.
“I think we just need to get to the bottom of it,” said State Sen. Bill Ferguson, who represents Baltimore City. “We need to know who knew what, when did they know it, and what are we possibly going to do to make sure this can never ever happen again.”
Sen. Ferguson sponsored the legislation.
“Until we can restore trust in the police, it’s going to be difficult for us to really significantly tackle the issue of crime,” he said.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has argued the commission isn’t needed, and that the Department of Justice and police commissioner are looking into the abuses.
“We’re under federal mandate, first of all, and I would support an independent body that is not led by the state,” Pugh said last month. “An independent body of folks who are aware of these kinds of situations and have the expertise to do so.”
The officers have yet to be sentenced for their crimes. Postponements could signal the government is not yet done investigating the GTTF.
“Having this high level commission with subpoena power, with the ability to compel testimony, that’s the only way we’re going to be able to move forward,” Ferguson said.
If this commission is created, its members would be appointed by the governor, the house speaker and the senate president. At least three of them would have to come from Baltimore City, and they’d have to have a preliminary report by the end of the year, and a final report by the end of next year.