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Cops On A Crime Spree: A 'Reveal' And WYPR Collaboration

Baltimore’s police department was already notorious (see the 2016 DOJ report).   

But in 2018, 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, 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.  

This episode originally aired in the Spring of 2018. Since then, several more officers have either been indicted or suspended while the BPD's Internal Affairs unit investigates. Former Sgt. Keith Gladstone recently plead guilty to planting a BB gun at the scene of a chase to cover for former Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who lead the Gun Trace Task Force.  Gladstone has not yet been sentenced. 

Timeline by Ben Spier

Mary Rose is a reporter and senior news producer for 88.1 WYPR FM, a National Public Radio member station in Baltimore. At the local news desk, she assigns stories, organizes special coverage, edits news stories, develops series and reports.
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