BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Calling for change. Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is proposing sweeping new safety features and upgrades to the city’s fleet of police transport vans. It comes after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray over one month ago.
Christie Ileto with why some say they’re unsure the upgrade will be effective.
Once a focal point in the Freddie Gray death investigation, changes are coming to prisoner transport vans. The city’s top cop wants to replace 24 vans. The cost is still in the works.
In the meantime, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts plans to upgrade the fleet with new partitions, side doors and cameras.
“These cameras in these vans could be monitored by the driver to see what’s in back and what’s happening. But more importantly, it’s recorded,” Batts said.
Eyes that would have immediately revealed what happened to Gray, who died from injuries he got while in police custody.
“We can’t afford to have this happen again,” said Councilman Brandon Scott.
Scott is proposing the vans even be privatized.
“If you can bring someone in from the outside who can automatically de-escalate some of the things that are happening on the street, I think we have to take a strong look at that,” he said.
GPS in vans is something that’s also being considered, as it took time to investigate the speed and the route of the transport van carrying Freddie Gray before it stopped at Western District.
“It’s small, tight. They just throw me in there. I’m just in there rolling around,” one man said.
Some remain skeptical of the upgrades.
“There could be incidents where the camera could work, the audio could work, the camera could not work. So it’s a win-lose for the residents,” said William Scipio, Sandtown Resident Action Committee.
Batts also defended officers’ new patrol schedule amid record breaking violence across the city. Schedules changed from five eight-hour days to four ten-hour days in an effort to be more visible in high crime areas and cut down on overtime.