CONTACT: Evan Serpick, Open Society Institute-Baltimore
We are grateful to the federal investigators and prosecutors for their work bringing members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force to justice after their outrageous criminal activities.
Trial testimony implicated officers beyond members of the task force and, combined with citizen reports of misconduct over many decades, highlights the continued failure of leadership, training, and oversight that was described in the Department of Justice investigation of the department, which led to the Consent Decree. In a telling moment during the trial, former Detective Momodu Gondo testified that he did not fear reprisals for his criminal activities because, “It was just part of the culture.”
Anyone who continues to suggest that the problems in the Baltimore Police Department are limited to a “few bad apples” is refusing to acknowledge the deep, systemic issues in the department and stands in the way of genuine reform. Acknowledging the department’s deep-rooted problems and engaging in the difficult work of re-imagining policing in our city is not only legally and morally necessary, it is essential to solving crimes and preventing violence and homicides.
Continued commitment to and implementation of the Consent Decree is one essential part of this reform process. Judge James Bredar, who oversees the Consent Decree, and Kenneth Thompson, head of the monitor team, have so far demonstrated such a commitment. OSI-Baltimore and other groups have pledged to support the process.
We are encouraged by Mayor Catherine Pugh’s promise to be “relentless” in working to “re-establish the trust and confidence that our citizens need and deserve to have in their police officers” and look forward to working with her to expand efforts currently underway quickly and transparently and to begin the real work of reforming the Baltimore Police Department.