There’s a lot about training, equipment and now-fired commissioner Anthony Batts’ leadership skills in the Baltimore police union’s report on the department’s handling of the riots that followed Freddie Gray’s death. But one section sheds light on a topic that’s not necessarily front-of-mind when considering city police departments: intelligence gathering.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 found that the riots revealed “many intelligence gaps” in the department. This is not a new phenomenon, as BPD’s intelligence capabilities have dipped over time, FOP states. This may be the one entity that has less intelligence gathering after 9/11. From the report:
Sadly, the Baltimore Police Criminal Intelligence Section has lost personnel and has been allowed to weaken. Ironically, as gangs like the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) continued to grow in Baltimore, the Criminal Intelligence Section continued to shrink. In January 2015, the continued downsizing of the Criminal Intelligence Section resulted in a veteran Detective Sergeant, recognized as one of the foremost intelligence experts, being transferred to patrol.
On the day of the riots (Monday, April 27), the current intelligence commander was assigned to run one of the field units at Mondawmin Mall. The FOP alleges that took him out of his normal leadership role on a day when police were putting out a couple of statements that seemed to require criminal intelligence.
The first was the “purge” rumored on social media, which indicated kids would walk out of school early and wreak havoc. Mondawmin was one of the “purge” sites. He should’ve been analyzing that threat, the report states:
The Intelligence Commander would be better utilized coordinating and directing the work of his subordinate detective staff whose work in this situation would have been better spent investigating and analyzing the “purge” information that was received relative to Mondawmin Mall.
The other item was the report that gangs had made a truce, and were teaming up to take out police officers. Later in the report, FOP seems to suggest that information came straight from the police department’s media relations section, rather than intelligence. Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t true. The FOP would rather see these kinds of statement kept out of the public. From the report:
The correct procedure for disseminating this uncorroborated threat would not involve the Baltimore Police Media Communications Section. The Baltimore Police Criminal Intelligence Section would be responsible for disseminating this information.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the FOP report a “trumped up political document,” and said it was filled with “baseless and false information.” City brass have ordered their own review of the riots from an independent commission. We’ll see if they touch on the intelligence capabilities of the department, as well.
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