Baltimore, MD— After one of the most prominent police corruption cases in Baltimore history concluded with guilty verdicts for former Baltimore Police Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, who were charged with racketeering, Maryland state delegate Bilal Ali proposed that the Baltimore Police Department “be disbanded and reorganized from the ground up.”
The convictions of Hersl and Taylor are the final two convictions related to the Federal prosecution of 16 officers and civilians in a massive corruption scandal inside the Baltimore Police Department.
“Six members of the city’s elite Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) pleaded guilty to stealing from civilians and selling confiscated guns and drugs back onto the streets. They in turn testified against the remaining two members who claimed innocence. A five-man drug crew, a bail bondsman, and two other civilians have also been convicted, The Baltimore Sun reported. The corrupt officers have yet to be sentenced, but their actions have tainted as many as 850 cases and could result in overturned convictions.
Former-Detective Maurice Ward, a GTTF member, testified in January that the group would routinely carry BB guns in their vehicles just in case they needed to plant one on a crime scene. Ward testified to other shocking acts of corruption by the GTTF as well.”
“We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement,” Acting Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said Monday. “Let me make it clear: I have zero tolerance for corruption.”
Maryland State Delegate Bilal Ali proposed to Mayor Catherine Pugh and De Sousa that the department be disbanded, noting that other municipalities have had success in starting over from square one.
“In 2013 Camden [New Jersey] disbanded its police department in response to record-breaking levels of violence and an extremely inefficient police budget,” Ali wrote. “Four years later, Camden hit its lowest homicide rate in 30-years.”
Last year, Baltimore recorded its highest-ever per capita homicide rate, with a total of 342 murders.
“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,” Ali’s letter noted.
“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. You can read my full letter to Mayor Pugh and Commissioner-Designate De Sousa in the attached documents. The time for platitudes and vague statements is over. The time for bold action and concrete ideas is now.”
On Wednesday morning, Pugh rejected Ali’s proposal.
“I’m not disbanding the police department,” Pugh said. “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.”
Although De Sousa claims the department is headed in the right direction, the unsolved murder of Sean Suiter, a Baltimore police officer turned whistleblower who was mysteriously shot and killed the day before he was set to testify in relation to this case, leaves a cloud of suspicion over the Baltimore Police Department. It has been roughly three months since Suiter was murdered and there are no leads or suspects. Previously, the longest a suspected cop killer had ever evaded Baltimore police was 5 days.