Staggered by civil rights violations, corruption convictions and the unsolved killing of a homicide detective, the Baltimore Police Department is closing out its dismal year with a depleted force struggling to contain soaring violent crime while also trying to restore wavering public trust, the Baltimore Sun reports. While the department flails, city, state and federal officials appear to be operating from competing playbooks, which the Sun calls “a lack of coordination that law enforcement professionals warn could deepen distrust.” When Gov. Larry Hogan came to Baltimore last week to announce a crime-fighting plan for the city, Baltimore officials stayed away. Mayor Catherine Pugh thanked Hogan, but said the plan offered nothing new.
On Wednesday, a fifth officer from the formerly elite gun trace task force pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges for his role in a scheme to shake down criminal suspects and innocent citizens. Homicide Detective Sean Suiter had been set to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the task force when he was shot in the head last month.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis is waiting to hear whether the FBI will take over the investigation into Suiter’s death. Edward Jackson, a former city police colonel now on the civilian advisory panel appointed by Pugh to assist with the federally mandated reform of the department, says, “The community has zero faith in the police department today. The Baltimore Police Department is in crisis.” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, who presided over a drop in crime in the city from 2007 to 2012, implored city, state and federal law enforcement agencies to return to the coordination that they say worked.