In a reality more horrifying than the worst dirty cop movie, the Baltimore Police Department is currently in court as a scandal unfolds. Details of drug dealing, toy gun throw downs, intimidation, and the suspicious suicide of a testifying witness are coming to light in court testimony. The far reaching corruption begs us to ask how it took so long to surface, and whether this city wide behavior is an anomaly or a national trend.
The plot begins in 2011 when a New Jersey woman overdosed and authorities tracked the origins of her drugs to Baltimore. There they uncovered a drug gang which counted a dirty dealing cop as a member. By the time the investigation was done, eight members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force were arrested on charges that range from robbery to racketeering.
This trail and the charges don’t tell the full disturbing story though. As six out of eight officers are cooperating and offering testimony in open court, the details call into question years of convictions, community intimidation, and use of force. How could such high ranking elite officers have gone unreported for so long?
Murder? Officer Marcus Tayor had a toy gun in his glove box when he was arrested. Testimony that the squad's supervisor told all his men to carry a toy gun in case they “got in a jam” reveals a policy, not an anomaly. Will details of ‘bad shootings’ come to light? Maybe not. The day before he was scheduled to testify, one officer was mysteriously shot in the head by his own gun. You can’t make this shit up.
Robbery? Sargent Wayne Jenkins would harass small time drug dealers asking them who had the big money, and who they might rob if they had the chance. In one case the squad stole $6500 from a man in his car and another $100,000 from a suspected drug dealer after invading his home without a warrant.
Harassment? Cops in one ward would use their cars to speed up to crowds, slam on their brakes before hitting them, and use that as an excuse to chase anyone who ran. Anyone carrying backpacks or driving Honda Civics were also fair game to harass, search and target.
I’d make a movie analogy but that would only make light of the reality people lived. Imagine what Baltimore residents put up with under such corruption. Is this an isolated city or a national problem?
By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca