- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Baltimore police have yet to do a “deep dive” internally into the root causes of a major police corruption scandal, but questions about who should conduct a review and when were discussed recently with a federal judge, the police commissioner told a state commission Tuesday.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that although there is agreement that a review needs to be done, an ongoing investigation and litigation factor into how to conduct an inquiry of how pervasive corruption could go on for years before federal investigators got involved.

The Commission to Restore Trust in Policing was created by lawmakers last year to examine the Gun Trace Task Force scandal in Baltimore. The panel is scheduled to submit recommendations at the end of the year.

Gary McLhinney, a member of the commission, asked Harrison if the department has conducted an internal review to learn how the eight convicted officers ended up in a position to do what they did.

“Was there something we missed from recruitment, hiring, all the way through? Red flags?” McLhinney asked.



Harrison said that although the department has not conducted an internal review, the matter came up last week during a hearing with U.S. District Judge James Bredar, who is overseeing a federal oversight program requiring sweeping police reforms in Baltimore.

Harrison noted the city solicitor’s concerns that the city must be “extremely careful,” because “we’re already engulfed with litigation” related to the case.

“Because it’s still being litigated, and it’s still being processed criminally and some administratively, we have not done it,” Harrison said, about conducting an internal review.

The police commissioner added that the consent decree and reforms in the recruitment process are ensuring the department is “making sure we’re getting people who are the right fit for the profession and for our department.

But McLhinney said he found it “problematic” if litigation was the reason police were not investigating what went wrong. He said there is a “much bigger issue” in dealing with the fallout from GTTF than concerns of possible litigation.

Harrison said all are in agreement such a review needs to be done.

“We’ve already begun talking about it,” Harrison told reporters after the meeting. “The questions now are: how and when and who. Those are the questions we don’t have the answers to yet.”

Harrison, who was sworn in as commissioner in March, said the judge, the Justice Department and the monitoring team all have expressed an interest in seeing a review of the root causes of the corruption.

The first officers on the task force were indicted two years ago. The unit was tasked with getting illegal guns off the streets, but a federal investigation found that the squad’s members spent years ripping off drug dealers, stealing money from citizens and defrauding their department.

The unit has been disbanded. Scores of cases involving the officers have already been dropped.

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