A Baltimore judge has assigned the city’s new grand jury to investigate “the lack of confidence that exists between many members of the public and law enforcement,” says the Baltimore Sun. The newspaper called the move “another signal of continuing distrust of police officers in courtrooms.” The panel of 23 grand jurors will work for four months on a report suggesting ways to restore public confidence in the Police Department.
“This is not a court issue,” Circuit Judge Joseph P. McCurdy, who assigned the topic to the grand jury. “This is something the community as a whole needs to address.” McCurdy told the grand jury about two recent cases in which city judges doubted the word of police officers. In the past two weeks, two weapons violations cases have crumbled – and convicted felons who admitted carrying loaded revolvers were able to avoid five-year prison sentences – because judges believed the guns might have been discovered illegally. The officers’ stories about how they knew to search the men didn’t add up, judges said. McCurdy told the grand jury that the proliferation of T-shirts displaying disdain for law enforcement, such as the ones that read: “stop snitching” and “[expletive] the police,” are another indication of simmering tensions.