Baltimore, MD — After a recent corruption trial exposed just how bad things were at the Baltimore City Police Department, Maryland state delegate Bilal Ali suggested that the whole department should be “disbanded and reorganized from the ground up.”
In a proposal that he made this week to Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner-Designate Darryl De Sousa, Ali pointed to the example of Camden, who disbanded their police department just a few years ago.
“In 2013 Camden [New Jersey] disbanded its police department in response to record-breaking levels of violence and an extremely inefficient police budget. Four years later, Camden hit its lowest homicide rate in 30-years,” Ali said.
Meanwhile, this past year the city of Baltimore saw its worst ever homicide rate, with a total of 342 killings.
“I’m aware that considering such enormous action may give City residents reason to pause, but the level of corruption and mismanagement at BPD has created a crisis of public confidence that simply cannot foster the productive relationship between community and police that public safety depends on. We now face a once-in-a-lifetime level of dysfunction that requires us to seriously consider once-in-a-lifetime solutions. Of course, the first step to any solution that the City embraces must be an honest and open dialogue with the public, so that Baltimore residents can inform the policies that will define public safety in the City for years to come. The time for platitudes and vague statements is over. The time for bold action and concrete ideas is now,” Ali said.
During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor Pugh quickly disregarded the idea of disbanding the force.
“I’m not disbanding the police department. We’re trending downward. I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’ve appointed a new police commissioner, we have a 163-page report by the Department of Justice that requires us to reform the police department, and those are the things that we’ll continue to do,” she said.
The recent federal probe of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force unit exposed some of the worst police corruption in recent memory, including carrying around bags filled with BB guns to plant on people they shot.
The fact that this case could potentially bring down the whole department casts more doubt on the official story of Sean Suiter, the Baltimore Police Officer turned whistleblower who was mysteriously shot and killed just before he was set to testify.
This is the longest that a manhunt for the killer of a Baltimore police officer has gone on without an arrest or viable suspect. Previously, the record was held by a suspect who fled to Oklahoma over 50 years ago, before the introduction of big brother cameras and tracking technology, and he was caught in just five days.
It has now been roughly 3 months since Suiter’s murder and there has still been no leads or suspects.
Baltimore police have a reputation for using strong-arm mafioso tactics to intimidate fellow officers out of turning on the gang. As we reported back in 2014, Baltimore Detective Joe Crystal became a target of intimidation for his entire department after testifying against other officers in a misconduct case. Following his testimony, he received threats from other officers and even found a dead rat on his car one day.