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Significant Changes in the BPD

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Baltimore’s acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa announced additional internal changes to the department Friday. The appointment of one deputy commissioner, Thomas Cassella, is being held up.

De Sousa had named Cassella to be Deputy Commissioner for the Operations Bureau, but documents were leaked to the media alleging two disciplinary complaints against him.

“We’re actually evaluating what was brought to my attention," said De Sousa. "We’re actually evaluating the legitimacy of it.”

In a news conference, De Sousa also denied reports that Sergeant Alicia White, one of the officers acquitted in the Freddie Gray case, moved to the internal affairs division. He also announced what he called the historic promotion of Lieutenant Colonel LaTonya Lewis to the division of Homeland Security.

“I say this passionately is that I’ve been with the Baltimore Police Department for 30 years. For 30 years and years before that, there has never been an African-American female above the rank of major," said De Sousa. "And I’m proud to say it’s also happening during Black History Month.”

He also announced he was creating a new inspectional service division of the department led by Colonel Osborne Robinson. His division is to be responsible for conducting randomized polygraph tests of department members in specialized units and—in light of the Gun Trace Task Force trial revelations—tracking handgun violations.

“One of the things that occurred with GTTF was the handgun violations," said De Sousa. "So this unit is responsible for tracking every single gun arrest in the city and seeing where it stands.”

The commissioner also reorganized the patrol division to place two area commanders to oversee the nine police districts as part of his strategic response to violence reduction. Those commanders will then report up the chain to the new Chief of Patrol Colonel Perry Stanfield, who like many of the newly appointed heads of the department came out of retirement.

“I think the Baltimore City Police department has a really rich tradition. There is somewhere some point we lost a little bit," said De Sousa. "But the fact to the matter is that the folks that I’m bringing back was part of that rich tradition that made Baltimore Police department what it was today.”

De Sousa’s executive nomination hearing is scheduled for later this month. City council is expected to vote on his appointment.

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