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Baltimore Police Commissioner: Reform Efforts Will Get More Officers Arrested

Heather Hunter Contributor

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts warned on Friday that the push for police reforms would likely lead to “more police officers arrested.”

Commissioner Batts writes in an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun:

“We will have more officers who are forced out because their outdated, outmoded views of policing do not match the standards the community expects and demands. I will not apologize for bringing professionalism and integrity to the forefront while eliminating greed, corruption and intolerance from the rank and file. Policing in any environment is difficult on a good day. That does not mean we have, or should ever have, a blank check to treat the public with callous disregard.

Continuing these reforms also means that organizations and individuals, who have profited, either materially or through position, will continue to fight against the reforms we are enacting. It means that people will throw mud, call into question my leadership, or lament days gone by.

They will attack with innuendo, rumor and supposition. We will respond with fact, with evidence, with the things we have done.

Reform is not easy. It comes with a cost. It is a cost we should be willing to pay for the future of our city.”

Batts also made clear that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had hired him to reform the Baltimore Police Department and “rebuild relationships with communities across the city.”

His op-ed was published two days after Mayor Rawlings-Blake called on the police to do their job as violence has increased, arrests have dropped and shootings are up by 80 percent since last year in Baltimore.

The police commissioner went on to slam Baltimore police officers who have conducted cable interviews under disguise to talk about the lack of leadership support of officers and low morale in the police department following Gray’s death and riots.

“Many want me to outright defend the department and say nothing is wrong with the way this organization engages in police work. For the overwhelming majority that is true. However, when people go on television wearing masks, allege themselves to be police officers and are cloaked in the shadows espousing their own indifference to violence as children are shot, I am troubled. This is not the Baltimore Police Department that I know.”

To add pressure on the Baltimore police force after the death of Freddie Gray, Maryland lawmakers have been working to restrict when police can use deadly force.

Baltimore Sen. Catherine Pugh told The Baltimore Sun:

“Why are so many people being shot and killed by police officers?” asked Sen. Catherine Pugh, co-chair of the state’s new working group on public safety.

The Baltimore Democrat said she wants to learn more about how and when local police are trained to pull their weapons. “That will be part of the discussion,” she said.

Baltimore’s chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby had alleged that Gray had breathing issues during his arrest, did not receive medical attention and wasn’t secured by a seat belt at any point while in the police van.