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In 2015, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) underwent intense internal scrutiny in the wake of the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. Two years later and unrelated to the Freddie Gray incident, eight members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) were arrested and charged with racketeering, robbery, extortion, and overtime fraud. Four additional BPD officers have pled guilty to lying and engaging in a cover up designed to frame a suspect. In January 13, 2022, an independent investigation of the GTTF scandal culminated in the public release of a 660-page report.[i] This latest report, on the heels of other outside analyses of the GTTF scandal by media outlets and government entities, outlined the leadership failures which allowed brazen criminal activity by multiple members of the Baltimore Police Department to occur over the course of several years.[ii]
Though every police scandal is somewhat distinct, the fundamental challenges that face law enforcement agencies have been relatively consistent over time—and are not wholly unique to Baltimore or any other municipality. These challenges include hiring qualified applicants, vetting them, conducting fair internal investigations of alleged misconduct, ensuring consistent disciplinary practices, and emphasizing early intervention strategies in the face of possible misconduct.
It is in this broader context of police leadership fundamentals that the GTTF corruption scandal is best understood. These fundamentals should be applied to hiring, training, and internal affairs operations for all law enforcement agencies. The failures of leadership explored in these reports should be studied by law enforcement leaders across the country and the loss of public trust associated with these scandals should serve as cautionary tales that are universally relevant.
In this webinar, Attorney Matt Dolan will discuss the organizational failures exposed by the GTTF scandal, including:
· The risks associated with hiring frenzies, background investigation failures, and “just because” hires
· The importance of utilizing the field training and probationary process as a vetting opportunity
· The breakdown in communication between IA investigators and supervisors in the field as a barrier to early intervention in the face of poor performance and misconduct
· The critical role of first-line supervisors in efforts to ensure early warning, early intervention
[i] Steptoe & Johnson LLP (2022). Anatomy of the Gun Trace Task Force Scandal: Its Origins, Causes, and Consequences. Rockville, MD: Steptoe & Johnson LLP.
[ii] Maryland Commission to Restore Trust in Policing (2020). Report on the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). Annapolis: MD: Maryland Office of the Governor; U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (2016). Investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department. Washington, DC: Department of Justice.