BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A retired Baltimore Police Department deputy commissioner who supervised the disgraced Gun Trace Task Force said he had no idea about the officers’ crimes or the public affairs complaints against them.
During testimony under oath Monday in front of the Commission to Restore Trust in Policing, Dean Palmere said he never saw any red flags with the task force and no one ever asked him after the indictments why he thought things went so horribly wrong.
Palmere added he wasn’t aware of corruption in the elite unit until days before officers were federally indicted.
“We look at the environment we live in today with law enforcement and the distrust between the community and law enforcement, and this just compounds it tenfold,” he said.
Once praised for getting guns off the streets, multiple officers are now serving prison time after stealing tens of thousands of dollars in cash and drugs from victims they thought would never be believed if they went to authorities. Many of the officers had numerous internal affairs complaints against them, but Palmare said he never knew it.
He called what happened to the victims “disgusting.”
“Generally when ethics is involved, that’s a direct report to the commissioner so I wouldn’t be aware of it,” he said. “That would go through the deputy commissioner of administration and directly to the commissioner’s office.”
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Palmare also denied that he coached convicted GTTF detective Jamell Rayam what to say to internal affairs after Rayam shot and killed a man in 2009. Those allegations came out in federal court testimony.
Palmere says he was not aware of any misconduct on the part of officers in the Gun Trace Task Force prior to their indictment; he says he was unaware that there was a federal investigation until several days before the indictments @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) September 14, 2020
“I don’t even think I knew who Officer Rayam was at the time,” he said.
Palmere said he had little interaction with Sergeant Wayne Jenkins who directly ran the GTTF and even sold pharmaceuticals looted during the unrest after Freddie Gray’s death.
The former deputy commissioner also said he was never involved in any department efforts to figure out how and why the corruption went on for so long.
Maryland lawmakers formed the commission to get to the bottom of corruption in the GTTF. After almost two years of investigating, the commission is getting closer to releasing its final report.