In the wake of an explosive federal trial that has exposed stunning corruption in the Baltimore Police Department, incoming Baltimore police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa has announced a series of measures designed to root out corruption in the department and restore the public’s trust in their police force, including mandatory polygraph tests for all Baltimore cops.
What’s the background?
The Baltimore Police Department has faced a number of high-profile controversies in recent years, culminating with the public trial of members of the department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force. That trial concluded just today with the convictions of Officers Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor on racketeering charges. Six of the other seven officers on the task force pled guilty to corruption charges, and four of them provided testimony against Hersl and Taylor.
During the trial, officers on the task force admitted to conducting illegal stops and arrests, fraudulently billing hundreds of hours of overtime, and stealing thousands of dollars of cash and massive quantities of drugs from drug dealers.
In a statement about the trial, De Sousa said, “We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement.”
Hersl and Taylor had been on unpaid leave since their indictments were announced in March. After the verdict, De Sousa announced that the department was planning to terminate their employment.
What are the new measures?
De Sousa said that, among other things, he plans to institute random polygraph tests and “integrity tests” for officers on the force.
In a statement to WJZ-TV, De Sousa said, “I cannot minimize the fact that there are corrupt cops. GTTF is awful. It sickens me to my stomach to see what occurred.”
He also said that the department would be forming a new “integrity division” that would be responsible for reducing corruption on the force.
De Sousa’s Friday news conference was also marred by confusion, as De Sousa announced that he was reconsidering his previous choice for Deputy Commissioner of Operations in light of some material that was revealed on a background check.