The Baltimore Police Department is better prepared than ever before to handle civil disturbances, given the lessons it learned from the rioting that broke out in April, say the mayor and police commissioner. “It is our goal that something like that never happens again,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, the Baltimore Sun reports. “It is our goal to maintain safety and order, to protect the public and protect the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department.” Others expressed skepticism. “I know I wouldn’t want to put us to the test, because I’m afraid at how strong the failure may be. I’m concerned about where we are right now,” said City Councilman Carl Stokes.
An independent review of the department’s handling of April’s unrest by the Police Executive Research Forum found glaring problems, including inadequate planning, a chaotic and disorganized command structure, poor communication, and insufficient training and equipment for officers. The report, which cost $23,500, was requested by former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Commissioner Kevin Davis, who replaced Batts in July, said in addition to the changes that have been made, the department also is more prepared because officers have experienced rioting, looting and arson on a large scale. “It had been since 1968 since our city had experienced a riot, and it is not only a training and equipment deficiency that we’ve since addressed. We didn’t have those experiences under our belt,” Davis said. “We do now.” Many of the failings already had been identified by the city and the department, Rawlings-Blake said, and police have been instituting changes since the unrest subsided in early May.