On Friday, the Baltimore Police nabbed a man who attempted to pimp out his wife to an undercover cop for $100 at a BWI-area hotel. The twist: the husband-pimp, Lamin Manneh, is himself a Baltimore City cop in the Eastern District. That same week, a Baltimore cop killed his girlfriend, held a toddler hostage, and engaged in a standoff with the SWAT team. And a woman claiming that four Baltimore police officers assaulted her when she tried to film them with her cell phone camera (because they were allegedly assaulting a juvenile suspect) recently filed a million-dollar suit against the officers and department last month. All of which begs the question: What is going on with the Baltimore City Police?
It’s certainly not easy to be a cop in a city known for its crime issues. But the number of recent incidents where officers ended up arresting one of their own is troubling. Add to that the spate of controversial police-involved shootings — nine so far this year, resulting in ten fatalities — an uptick from last year’s 15 shootings, which killed nine. (In comparison, in 2011 Chicago police officers killed 10 people, the LAPD killed 14, and New York City cops killed 6). And then there’s the cop who was indicted in January on drug and gun conspiracy charges. Or the 14 officers who pled guilty to federal racketeering charges in last year’s bribery case. And then there’s — well, I’ll just stop there.
Baltimore’s current police chief, Anthony Batts, has been in service for less than a year. The department recently announced plans to hire a consultant to help them figure out how to run things. Last week, they chose a former prosecutor of police misconduct cases to be their new internal affairs leader, which seems like a step in the right direction. The department also brought in a former LAPD officer to run the new Professional Standards and Accountability Bureau (an interesting choice, since the LAPD isn’t known for its popularity or integrity, either). The only upside: it can’t get much worse than this. Right?