The contract between Baltimore and the Fraternal Order of Police contains impediments to accountability, says a report by criminologist Samuel Walker of University of Nebraska at Omaha quoted by the Baltimore Sun. Walker said “offensive provisions” in the contract, a three-year pact expiring next year, violate “best practices” across the U.S. and should be revised to boost professionalism in the police department. “In Baltimore, and in other cities and counties … police union contracts contain provisions that impede the effective investigation of reported misconduct and shield officers who are in fact guilty of misconduct from meaningful discipline,” Walker wrote. The report comes as tension swirls around the Police Department after Freddie Gray’s death. Six officers have been charged in Gray’s death from spinal injuries sustained in police custody. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into his death, as well as a broader probe of alleged misconduct in the department.
Walker cited items including the “do not call list,” the expungement of internal records and the makeup of hearing boards. The contract says that officers cannot be disciplined if prosecutors place them on the “do not call list,” a list of officers who are not called to testify due to credibility issues. Del. John Cluster, a Baltimore County Republican and retired county police officer, said that when officers are placed on the list, supervisors typically put them in jobs where they won’t be required to testify in court. “They’re basically being taken off the streets,” he said. “They’re not given the premiere jobs in the department anymore, which is the right thing to do. So in essence, they are being disciplined.”