The Baltimore Police Department is currently negotiating a consent decree with federal investigators who found the department very much at fault in August. Amid those talks, the union representing city police officers announced yesterday that it sent three investigators a nine-page letter.
Among FOP Lodge 3’s complaints is a worry that the department has far too few supervisors, insufficient training and poor system notification and education about department policy changes. They also say the public seem to be misinformed about body cams.
The DOJ wrote in its report that that Baltimore Police Department “lacks meaningful accountability systems to deter misconduct.” However, FOP President Lt. Gene Ryan wrote that the department is “severely understaffed in terms of front line supervisors, i.e. Sergeants and Lieutenants.” He said police more supervisors and a “longer, more effective, supervisors’ ‘school’ before they are promoted and assigned.”
Ryan’s remarks about the conditions of police facilities and equipment are in line with the DOJ’s finding that “officers suffer from being supplied with outdated, broken, or in some cases, no equipment.” Ryan wrote that overhauling technology and equipment “would pay dividends in the long term.”
Officers wearing body cameras, one of the few items enumerated in the letter that the DOJ did not directly say were a concern, should be allowed a 21-foot barrier from the public “for a safe operational space,” Ryan wrote. He said citizens also need to know that an officer is not required to turn off his or her body-worn device if a member of the public happens to ask.
The letter also addresses other issues raised by the DOJ, including the department’s handling of sex assault cases, poor community policing and discriminatory enforcement. It’s anyone’s guess how many of the union’s recommendations will make it into the consent decree. But the letter offers some insight into what issues from the damning report most concern the police union’s ranks.