Baltimore’s police department was already notorious (see the 2016 DOJ report).
But this year, eight former police officers were convicted on federal racketeering charges stemming from an FBI investigation. They belonged to an elite task force charged with getting guns off the city’s streets. Instead, the plainclothes cops roamed Baltimore neighborhoods at will, robbing people on the street, breaking into homes to steal money, drugs or guns and planting evidence on their victims.
The targets of the Gun Trace Task Force included drug dealers and ordinary citizens. One of its favorite tactics was to speed toward a group of men on a street corner, chase whoever ran and shake them down. On top of all this, the officers falsified their timesheets to almost double their salaries.
Years before the cops were caught, The Baltimore Sun ran an investigation that exposed police brutality lawsuits against Daniel Hersl. But, Hersl remained on the police force and was even promoted to the Gun Trace Task Force.
In partnership with WYPR, this episode of Reveal asks if the task force was simply a rogue operation or if the officers were aided and abetted by fellow cops and even supervisors within the department.
Timeline by Ben Spier