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‘Uncaring And Confused’: Police Say Baltimore Riots Could Have Been Prevented

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Casey Harper Contributor
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A Baltimore police union released a report Wednesday detailing the atrocious decision-making by the mayor and police command during the Baltimore riots. The report says the riots could have been prevented if the department was not so worried about legal liability and how they looked to the media.

“The predominant characterizations of Baltimore Police Department leadership during the riots by officers surveyed were that they seemed unprepared, politically motivated, uncaring and confused,” the report states. “The unrest and riots that occurred in Baltimore were preventable. The injuries suffered by more than 200 police officers, both those from within the Baltimore Police Department and outside agencies, could have been avoided or at least minimized. The injuries sustained by civilians who were assaulted, as well as the destruction of private and public property, also could have been avoided…”

The union, Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, says the police response to the riots was entirely botched. It takes issue with former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s decision to have police hold back and not aggressively arrest rioters. Rawlings-Blake fired Batts the day the report was released.

“According to officers’ accounts, they were told ‘the Baltimore Police Department would not respond until they [the protestors] burned, looted, and destroyed the city so that it would show that the rioters were forcing our hand,'” the report states. “The officers were told their primary job was to deescalate any situation with no response rather than to escalate with action. This was confirmed by officers from other jurisdictions who attended that roll call.”

Because of this, police say the riots were allowed to get out of hand. Officers said they felt like “clowns for the media” as they stood there useless.

“This tentative posture allowed the destruction of personal property and needless injury to first responders,” the report states. “The question begs now, is the Baltimore Police Department prepared for the next potential unrest? Does Commissioner Batts have the leadership skills necessary to get the job done?”

Also, police had to release certain people after arresting them, including people who had assaulted officers, showing there were almost no consequences for the rioting and emboldening the arrested rioters.

The union says officers had to get approval from legal advisers before making arrests, “severely” slowing their ability to respond to intense situations.

“Protesters will view an under response as a victory and an opportunity to increase their level of civil disorder,” the report states.

Besides police having their hands tied by top officials, they said the commanders on the ground lacked training to handle the rioters.

“Many of the on-site commanders were unfamiliar with the tactics, personnel and equipment needed to handle the incidents they faced,” the report states. “Planning for the riots should have been completed well in advance.”

Jacob Bojesson contributed to this report.

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