As the Baltimore Police Department faces one of its largest corruption scandals in history, the new city prosecutor is revamping the way prosecutors deal with police wrongdoing, reports the Baltimore Sun. Gregg Bernstein, who took office in January, is considering eliminating a decade-old division that is devoted to police misconduct cases. He has abolished a controversial list kept by his predecessor that banned certain officers from testifying at trial.
Such moves appear contrary to national trends “in larger jurisdictions” like Baltimore, says Scott Burns of the National District Attorneys Association. Most cities have a separate prosecutor’s unit to investigate criminal allegations against police, he said, and everyone keeps tabs on officers who might have credibility issues. “Whether by formal policy or by common sense, you try to make sure that person isn’t the lead investigator on every case,” Burns said. Law enforcement analysts said Bernstein’s moves are likely to be geared toward preserving positive relations with police. Bernstein campaigned on a platform of better relations with law enforcement, which roundly endorsed him after years of butting heads with predecessor Patricia Jessamy, who wasn’t shy about criticizing the department. Bernstein refused to be interviewed.