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Criminal Justice

Baltimore City Police Department opens museum

May 26, 2017
Mark Dennis, Staff Photographer / Mayor's Office of Communications

With the Baltimore City Police Department under a consent decree to overhaul its operations, Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, and Mayor Catherine Pugh cut the ribbon on the new Baltimore City Police Museum today.

Crime trends in Baltimore

May 3, 2017
Dominique Maria Bonessi

With just a few weeks before budget hearings at Baltimore City Hall, police officials appeared a public safety meeting Tuesday chaired by Councilman Brandon Scott, to talk about fighting violence in the city. WYPR's Dominique Maria Bonessi was there, and spoke with Nathan Sterner about what happened.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill prohibiting state and local police from enforcing federal immigration law.

The bill prevents state and local police from inquiring about immigration status during a traffic stop or an unrelated arrest. It also prohibits state and local corrections officers from holding someone based on what’s known as a “detainer,” a request by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents to keep someone without a warrant while they look into his or her immigration status.

Effort to give mayor control of Baltimore Police is dead

Mar 3, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

The sponsor of a bill seeking to return control of Baltimore Police back to the city said Friday afternoon he is withdrawing his proposal.

Del. Curt Anderson, a city Democrat, discussed the bill with his colleagues in the city delegation which he chairs.  He cited a three-page opinion from the Attorney General’s Office that said returning control of the police department to the city would be “extremely expensive.”

The real question about crime in Baltimore

Feb 9, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

A group of central West Baltimore residents gathered near Triangle Park Wednesday night to march against the surge of violence in their neighborhood and the city at large.

“Our deal is to show that we are the majority of this community and we won’t let a small percentage of violent individuals define what we are in Central West Baltimore,” said Ray Kelly with the No Boundaries Coalition; one of the march organizers.

Pugh on consent decree: We can pay for it

Feb 1, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh told a federal judge Monday morning the city can afford to implement a consent decree aimed at reforming the city police department.

U.S. District Judge James Bredar asked Pugh to attend the first hearing on the decree filed in the court in January.  The decree was the result of an investigation that found Baltimore Police regularly violated the civil rights of citizens.

Flickr Creative Commons // Elvert Barnes

Jake Naquin, a 10th grader at Bard High School Early College in West Baltimore, was waiting at Harford Road and The Alameda for a bus home to Hamilton one day last November when  three teenagers came up to him.

“Basically me and two of my friends were at the stop,” he explained. “They asked us what school we went to.  And we answered. “

So, Jake and his friends, unnerved, headed for another bus stop. They got about half-way there when the same group stopped them and demanded his phone. He says he thought they were joking.

DOJ v. FOP

Jan 13, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Shortly after the Justice Department and Baltimore City officials announced they’d reached a legal contract to reform the city police department Thursday the police union complained they were left out of the negotiations.

But Friday a DOJ spokesperson contradicted those claims.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday a series of measures aimed at assisting crime victims and their families.

One of the proposals would allow prosecutors of sex crimes to use as evidence a suspect’s previous sexual assault convictions.

Baltimore, Feds agree to consent decree

Jan 12, 2017
P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the full consent decree below.

Baltimore City and federal officials announced Thursday an agreement that will force the Baltimore Police Department to reform. The decree comes six months after a scathing Justice Department report found that city police routinely violated citizens’ rights; especially of African-Americans.

The consent decree is the product of a civil rights investigation into the police department after the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered severe injuries while being transported in a police van.

Details of the consent decree were made public as a news conference was taking place announcing the agreement.

P. Kenneth Burns

Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore City’s police union, planned to respond to comments made recently by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis about staffing issues in the department and contract negotiations.

But the union tweeted Sunday evening that the news conference scheduled for Monday will be postponed “due to unforseen (sic) circumstances.”  And that it will be rescheduled.

NTSB joins City investigation into bus crash

Nov 2, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A team of federal investigators joined Baltimore Police Tuesday in investigating a tragic bus crash in Southwest Baltimore where six died at the scene.

Jennifer Morrison, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said they will be in Baltimore for the rest of the week investigating the crash “with the goal of ultimately determining the cause of the crash and issuing safety recommendations.”

Six killed in city bus crash

Nov 1, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Six people were killed Tuesday morning and at least 10 injured when a school bus hit an MTA bus head-on during rush hour in Southwest Baltimore. City police spokesman T.J. Smith said the accident scene "literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus," calling the damage "catastrophic."

P. Kenneth Burns

In case you missed it, the Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency.  It has been that way since the 19th century and it might affect the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice for sweeping police reforms.

FOP warned police about problems four years ago

Aug 26, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A report issued four years ago by the Baltimore police union expressed the same concerns about zero-tolerance enforcement and training issues as the caustic Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department two weeks ago.

In fact, the federal report cited several times a “Blueprint for Improved Policing” published by the city Fraternal Order of Police in 2012.

The chief spokesman for Baltimore police insists that a trial program in which a manned plane with cameras flies over the city and feeds information to law enforcement was not a secret.

Arash Azizzada

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced a new legislative agenda last week, following the release of a U.S. Department of Justice report chronicling a system of discrimination in the Baltimore Police Department. Changing police recruitment practices was on the list.

“We will mandate and oversee the recruitment of officers by the Baltimore Police Department and require Baltimore residents, particularly African Americans and women, to be recruited and hired to fill the more than 3,000 officer positions comprising the agency,” state Del. Jill Carter, a Democrat who represents northwest Baltimore, said at the Black Caucus’ press conference.

But even before the report’s release, the Baltimore Police had begun building efforts to recruit from communities that haven’t historically attracted many applicants.

    

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, editorial page editor of the Baltimore Sun, take up former Mayor/Governor Martin O'Malley's defense of "broken windows" policing that was so sharply criticized in the recent Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police department.

The Department of Justice’s 163 page report describes officers and sergeants acting as if they had a blank check to do whatever they wanted in the inner city neighborhoods; using unreasonable force against people who represented little or no threat, making warrantless arrests without probable cause, conducting illegal strip searches, sometimes in public.

Soon the DOJ, the city, the police department, and community leaders will get to work on the court-ordered mandatory consent decree that’s should be finalized November 1.

Rachel Baye

Representatives of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced Friday a set of policy proposals in response to the scathing Justice Department report on discriminatory practices by the Baltimore Police Department.

Among the legislators’ proposals are hiring practices that bring in more African American and women city residents, protections for police whistle-blowers and opportunities for civilians to review police actions.

Mayor: DOJ findings “challenging” to hear

Aug 10, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Editor's note: The full DOJ report is posted at the bottom of this story.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she was committed to implementing police reforms after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department.

The mayor said “the findings are challenging to hear” but that her administration did not wait around for the Justice Department to issue its 163-page report.

“The city has taken first steps in a long path to reform and we’ve begun to see real benefits,” she said.

P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors defended Thursday their investigation and strategy in the case of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries suffered in police custody. 

Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said in a news conference they believed in the case and were prepared to continue with the trials.  But State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby determined that they had to be realistic.

“Mrs. Mosby correctly determined that we had to face the reality [that] defendants would select judge trials,” he said.  “And that this judge made determinations and that he had seen the significant portions of the evidence that he was going to see.”

Schatzow added he “obviously” disagrees with Williams’ view and that “there should have been guilty verdicts.”

BPD's new use of force policy: What's changed?

Jul 28, 2016

In her news conference Wednesday, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby blamed the legal system for her inability to convict any of the six police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case.

"Without real substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result," she said.

The trials of six officers in the Freddie Gray case came to an end Wednesday morning when prosecutors dropped charges against the remaining officers facing trial; Officers Garrett Miller and William Porter along with Sgt. Alicia White.

Prosecutors failed to win a conviction in the case. Officers Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson and Lt. Brian Rice were acquitted in May, June and July, respectively.

Porter’s original trial ended in a deadlocked jury last December.

Miller trial will have some differences

Jul 26, 2016
Baltimore Police

Pre-trial motions in the trial of Officer Garrett Miller will be heard Wednesday at Courthouse East.

Miller, one of six officers charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, will be the fifth officer brought to trial in the case.

This trial will have some differences from the previous four.

Mary Rose Madden

Camden County Officer Tyrrell Bagby is headed to his usual beat, but on the way he sees a man stumbling, about to walk off the curb and into a busy intersection near City Hall.  Officer Bagby leans out the window and tells the man the train is coming and that he could be hurt “sitting in the middle of the street.”

A tale of two Ryans

Jul 22, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

As you’d expect, Lt. Gene Ryan was a satisfied man Monday when Lt. Brian Rice was acquitted of all charges in Freddie Gray’s death.

Ryan, the head of Baltimore’s police union, has been among the most vocal critics of the charges filed against six police officers in the case and of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.  And some of that criticism has been inflammatory.

Another acquittal. Now what?

Jul 20, 2016

    

Fraser Smith and Kenneth Burns, of the WYPR news team, take up the latest developments in the Freddie Gray case and what it may mean for future prosecutions.

Third officer in Freddie Gray case acquitted

Jul 18, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer among the six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, was acquitted Monday of all the charges against him by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Rice was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered a severe spinal injury in the back of a police van.  He died a week later.

Rice Trial: Williams to render verdict Monday

Jul 17, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is expected to announce his verdict in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice Monday morning.

Rice is the highest ranking officer charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray.  He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Gray died from a spinal injury suffered in the back of a police van.

Rice could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the top count; the manslaughter charge.

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