BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police Commissioner Michael Harrison sent an email to Baltimore’s officers about the HBO series We Own This City on Monday.

The series is based on a book about the police department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force, which was written by Justin Fenton. 

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Fenton was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun during the arrest and court trials surrounding the fallout of the niche police unit.

The unit “disclosed a cancer from within BPD that was disturbing and wholly contrary to the Department’s values and commitment to fair, impartial and ethical law enforcement,” Harrison said in his email. 

He noted that since he was tapped to lead the Baltimore Police Department he has made an effort to reduce violent crime, ensure effective accountability structures, and create a departmental culture of integrity.

Harrison was hired in 2019 following years of leadership turnover in the police department.

“In 2019, the BPD requested an independent investigative firm, led by Michael Bromwich, to conduct a comprehensive review of the department and make recommendations to ensure this sort of conduct will never be allowed to occur again,” Harrison said. “We provided unprecedented access, full transparency and complete cooperation to Michael Bromwich and his team.”

Bromwich made 26 recommendations for the Department moving forward, Harrison said. 

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Many of those had already been developed and implemented by then, he said. The police department continues to actively work on the implementation of the remaining recommendations.  

“In the new era of the BPD, we know that the type of behavior exhibited by the GTTF should never have been allowed to occur. Not only did our department assist federal partners in order to uncover the corrupt activities of this unit, we also worked together to arrest and convict those involved,” Harrison said.

The police commissioner noted that the department has been working under a consent decree for five years.

“Last week, during a public hearing, United States District Judge James Bredar noted the positive changes implemented to date and commented on the stark differences he sees in the Department between 2017 and where it is today,” he said.

Harrison said that “this is evidence that the old ways—the wrong ways—which allowed for misconduct and unconstitutional policing to grow and fester within the department are not and will not be a part of the culture of BPD going forward.”

The effort to depart from the old ways and bring to light “past flaws” in an effort to move forward from them has made the police department “more responsive to the citizens of Baltimore,” Harrison said.

The commissioner said he remains focused on transforming the department so that it is better capable of serving Baltimore’s citizens.

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He made a video on the topic and uploaded it to YouTube too

CBS Baltimore Staff