Baltimore Police Dysfunction Will Take Years to Fix: Monitor

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Photo by Elvert Barnes via Flickr

The monitor overseeing reforms of the Baltimore Police Department says the dysfunction in the agency is so deep that it will take years longer than anticipated to root it out, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“The Baltimore Police Department is a dysfunctional organization, a highly dysfunctional organization,” Kenneth Thompson, monitor of the Police Department’s sweeping consent decree, told a state legislative committee. Thompson said he believed it would take longer to reform the department than acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle’s prediction of five to seven years.

“We are a long, long way from compliance,” Thompson said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get this done.” He cited the corruption of the Gun Trace Task Force, which he described as “Jesse James on steroids,” and said Baltimore’s black community has long known “police can do things and get away with it.”

He added, “The culture of corruption has to be addressed. The community has every right to say, ‘This is a really screwed-up police department.’ ”

The consent decree is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after the unrest following Freddie Gray’s death in 2015 from injuries suffered in police custody.The agency said it found a pattern of discriminatory policing in the city, particularly in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods.

Mike Mancuso of the Fraternal Order of Police responded, “Mr. Thompson, the culture of corruption has been addressed! The Gun Trace Task Force members are incarcerated! To insinuate that there is an ongoing culture of corruption is irresponsible.”

Meanwhile,  Thomas Cassella, a 23-year Baltimore Police Department veteran, has filed a  suit arguing that he was defamed in a memo alleging there was an internal complaint against him for racial discrimination. The memo  prompted then-commissioner Darryl De Sousa in February to withdraw Cassella’s appointment as a deputy commissioner, The Sun reported.

At the time, De Sousa told reporters that the decision to withdraw Cassella’s appointment was mutual, but the complaint alleges that Cassella was never consulted and that he continues to be affected negatively by the misinformation, especially after a Justice Department investigation found widespread discriminatory practices within the police department.

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