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Independent GTTF investigator lays out steps to avoid future police corruption

bpd cruiser.jpg
Elvert Barnes/Flickr
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A Baltimore Police cruiser drives down Charles St. in 2015. On Wednesday, independent investigators testified about the Gun Trace Task Force before the City Council.

The independent investigator behind a comprehensive 500-page report on the Baltimore Police Department’s infamous Gun Trace Task Force told the City Council Tuesday a lack of accountability led to wide-scale cynicism about the department’s Internal Affairs unit.

Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, pointed to Wayne Jenkins, Daniel Hersl, Jemell Rayam and Robert Hankard, who ascended within BPD’s ranks despite long histories of misconduct by evading internal punishment.

“They had committed egregious enough offenses that they should have been terminated by the department well before they completed most of their [GTTF-related] crimes,” Bromwich said.

He recommended the department bolster its Internal Affairs unit by retraining investigators in interviewing and writing skills and trial panelists.

“The parole board members, in many cases, don't seem to understand what their mandate is, which is to be satisfied that proof by a preponderance of the evidence has been shown, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

He added that BPD should actively work to strengthen staff ethics, from increasing the integrity standards of recruits to assigning a veteran officer to mentor to each new officer.

“Those are the times historically when corners are cut, where standards are lowered, and that simply can't be done. If that is done, you have a much greater risk of having corrupt officers in your ranks,” he said.