Police Abuse

So Many Problems at the Baltimore Police Department


Anthony Batts
Baltimore mayor's office

The Baltimore city council held a hearing with the police commissioner, Anthony Batts, and several other high-ranking officials. Council members probed how police officers actually made stops and police brass insisted they expected constitutional policing. The police commanders also said they wanted more cops to handcuff people while stopping them, for safety. Asked about the same people being stopped multiple times by cops, one deputy commissioner called it a "delicate situation," saying he and the other commissioners didn't want cops "to terrorize the citizens."

The meeting came after a Baltimore Sun investigation into the number of lawsuits against police claiming excessive force. Residents also complained about a 30 day rule cops use to keep the property of people they put in jail. Property taken by cops has to be claimed within 30 days or it's forfeited, even if the property owner is being kept in jail or otherwise away from hi things for longer than that. Duane Davis, who was arrested for putting a toilet in front of the local courthouse and regularly films cops, said he's had his cameras taken away that way.

One council member, Warren Branch, relayed in one instance seeing cops enter a man's home and search his refrigerator after detained him, and in another a cop poking a handcuffed man later released. The police brass there said they'd never heard of it. At the time, Branch said he reported both incidents to commanders, including one lieutenant colonel, Dan Lioi, was promoted with two other commanders in 2013 to get the murder rate down, but, as the Baltimore City Paper reports:

Since then, two of the three have left the department and have been charged with crimes. Lioi currently faces assault charges in Harford County related to a dispute with his wife. When Harford County deputies seized five guns from Lioi's residence, they found that one had previously been held by Baltimore City police as evidence. There has been no public explanation of how the gun got to Lioi's house or how the Baltimore Police evidence control section lost it. The incident is allegedly under investigation. 

Last week [Clifton] McWhite was charged with theft because he allegedly claimed academic credentials he had not earned, which got him a pay bump. He had resigned abruptly in April after 19 years on the job. His lawyer told the Sun that he is a victim, as he did not realize his credentials came from a diploma mill.

The Department of Justice says it will investigate the alleged pattern of excessive force used by the Baltimore Police Department, but residents hope other issues are addressed to. Talking about his experiences having his property seized, Davis told the city council: "The Justice Department is coming now and you'll have to turn the records over to the Justice Department." We'll see.