BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Maryland state delegate who represents Baltimore has proposed that the city’s police department “be disbanded and reorganized from the ground up.”
This comes in the wake of former Baltimore Police detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor being found guilty earlier this week on racketeering charges in one of the worst and biggest police corruption cases in recent history.
Federal prosecutors alleged officers in the specialized Gun Trace Task Force unit went rogue — robbing people and dealing drugs then trying to cover it all up.
A hard reset on an entire city’s police force is not entirely unprecedented, as Del. Bilal Ali mentioned in a Facebook post about his proposal, which was made to Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner-Designate Darryl De Sousa.
“In 2013 Camden [New Jersey] disbanded its police department in response to record-breaking levels of violence and an extremely inefficient police budget,” he wrote. “Four years later, Camden hit its lowest homicide rate in 30-years.”
Baltimore’s homicide tally was 342 last year, the worst in the city’s history considering per capita.
“I’m aware that considering such enormous action may give City residents reason to pause, but the level of corruption and mismanagement at BPD has created a crisis of public confidence that simply cannot foster the productive relationship between community and police that public safety depends on,” Ali’s letter goes on to say.
“We now face a once-in-a-lifetime level of dysfunction that requires us to seriously consider once-in-a-lifetime solutions. Of course, the first step to any solution that the City embraces must be an honest and open dialogue with the public, so that Baltimore residents can inform the policies that will define public safety in the City for years to come. You can read my full letter to Mayor Pugh and Commissioner-Designate De Sousa in the attached documents. The time for platitudes and vague statements is over. The time for bold action and concrete ideas is now.”
On Wednesday morning, Pugh dismissed the idea.
“I’m not disbanding the police department,” she said. “We’re trending downward. I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’ve appointed a new police commissioner, we have a 163-page report by the Department of Justice that requires us to reform the police department, and those are the things that we’ll continue to do.”