BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Putting the city back together. Baltimore is continuing to recover.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has more on how recent events may produce changes in police tactics.
Police moved quickly at Penn and North Monday after a man’s gun discharged as he ran from officers. He has been identified as 23-year-old Robert Tucker. Police say he should have never had that weapon.
Officers made a show of force and worked fast to set the record straight, avoiding the chaos from last week when riots broke out.
The department is evaluating procedures and working to be better prepared.
“I see some major changes coming for police departments and how they do their every day jobs,” said Doug Ward, Johns Hopkins University, formerly Maryland State Police.
The commissioner has tried to shore up morale in this recent address to officers.
“I’m very proud no one’s put in their letters of resignation, no one’s called in sick. Everyone’s stood tall,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore Police Department.
But the department faces big challenges, including concerns over millions paid out to people over claims of police misconduct and rough treatment, sparking a federal review that will provide recommendations and funding to implement them, but no court monitoring enforcement.
“When we ask them to make large numbers of arrests and we pressure for that, sometimes, the quality of those arrests suffers,” said Ward.
Police are also looking at changes in the way they transport those they arrest, including putting cameras in vans and checking to make sure they all have proper restraints.
That was problem long before Freddie Gray.
Eleven years ago, Mike Hellgren interviewed Jeff Alston, who won a major settlement. Alston was paralyzed from the neck down after a rough ride in a police van.
“I’m talking about the here and now,” said Alston. “I’ve got neurological pain 24 hours a day.”
Policy now requires the use of seat belts. Prosecutors argue that was not followed in the Gray case.
“The van itself is not the problem, it’s the people driving the van,” said Ward. “Look at the people that were in the streets–all with a big message I think to the police–you need to reform.”
Wednesday, the city’s board of estimates is expected to approve a $50,000 contract with the Wernken Law Firm. That will provide better training for officers on how to make legal arrests.