No Baltimore police officer has been caught stealing drugs, money, or items planted by internal affairs detectives in more than 100 tests in three years, the Baltimore Sun reports. Yet former police commanders, experts, and the police union say the fruitless results suggest that the stings are an ineffective way of uncovering corrupt behavior. “They are a waste of time,” said George Parry, a former federal and state prosecutor in Pennsylvania who tried two dozen officers on charges ranging from drug dealing to bribery and theft.
City police officials defended the tests. “These stings, as we call them, are necessary,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark. “I think they have been quite effective. … We’re trying to get at the truth.” The stings involve detectives planting drugs, money, or property to see whether officers would pocket the items. Two officers have been indicted on perjury and misconduct charges stemming from the arrests of innocent bystanders in the random stings. One was acquitted. The two were accused of lying in court documents by saying that they had witnessed bystanders hiding drugs, which were actually bits of soap placed in public areas by internal affairs detectives.
“It’s the sort of investigative technique that can generate a lot of statistics without a whole lot of effort,” said Parry, the former prosecutor. “It’s more of a public relations ploy than a serious investigative technique.”
The stings were promoted by Mayor Martin O’Malley in a plan issued in 2000 for reducing crime and re-engineering the police force. The plan reported 70 percent of officers surveyed by private consultants believed that at least some of their colleagues were stealing from drug dealers.