Baltimore police officers face discipline over lackluster response to shooting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Baltimore police officers face discipline over lackluster response to shooting

FILE - Party debris is seen in the area of a mass shooting incident in the Southern District of Baltimore, July 2, 2023. Two Baltimore Police Department employees could lose their jobs and another 10 face lesser disciplinary actions for their responses to the July 2023 mass shooting at a neighborhood block party. A report released last year found that Baltimore police ignored multiple warning signs and failed to take proactive measures in the hours leading up to a mass shooting. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Original Publication Date June 27, 2024 - 9:21 AM

BALTIMORE (AP) — Two Baltimore Police Department employees could lose their jobs and another 10 face lesser disciplinary actions for their responses to a July 2023 shooting at a neighborhood block party.

Two people died and 28 others were injured when gunshots tore through a large crowd in the courtyard of south Baltimore’s Brooklyn Homes public housing complex as the annual “Brooklyn Day” summertime celebration continued after nightfall. Most of the victims were teenagers and young adults.

Almost a year later, Baltimore police announced Thursday that they plan to discipline 12 department employees.

A report released last year found that Baltimore police ignored multiple warning signs and failed to take proactive measures in the hours leading up to the shooting.

“Officer indifference may have compromised the awareness, planning and response to Brooklyn Day prior to the large crowds arriving,” department leaders wrote in the report. “Members of the community can view such indifference (whether real or perceived) as a form of bias.”

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, city leaders and residents slammed the police department for its response. The conversations reopened old wounds and called into question ongoing efforts to reform the city’s embattled police force, which was thrust into the national spotlight years ago following the 2015 in-custody death of Freddie Gray.

The employees facing discipline include eight sworn officers and four civilian staff members, officials said in a news release Thursday. One officer and one civilian employee face termination. The others face suspension without pay, loss of leave and counseling.

Officials said they violated the following department policies: making false statements, neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and body-camera violations.

The disciplinary actions were recommended by two separate review committees, officials said. One is internal to the department and the other was created under a package of statewide police accountability measures passed in 2021.

The discipline is still pending because it could be appealed, according to department spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge.

“From Day One, it was important that we not only do a deep dive into all that happened before, during and after this tragic incident, but also hold those accountable who violated our policies and, most importantly, the public’s trust,” Police Commissioner Richard Worley said in a statement. “Our Department is committed to learning from this incident and rebuilding trust with the communities we serve.”

Mike Mancuso, president of the Baltimore police union, accused department leaders of scapegoating the rank and file. He cited a significant manpower shortage that has long plagued the agency, leaving officers stretched thin.

“Not one person above the rank of Lieutenant has been held responsible for this debacle. Not a single city leader or BPD Command member,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “These are the people responsible for staffing the BPD; so, how are they not responsible for this mess?”

The report released last year blamed police supervisors for repeatedly failing to take action even after Brooklyn Homes residents reported several hundred partygoers being potentially armed and disorderly during the annual summer block party.

Police also should have known about the event ahead of time and stationed officers there to provide security as they had in years past, but officers were caught off-guard this time around, the report said. That was partly because they failed to properly engage with residents of Brooklyn Homes in the weeks and months prior, according to the report.

The majority-Black community in the southwest corner of Baltimore has long experienced damaging cycles of poverty and neglect. Critics questioned whether the department would have responded differently if the shooting occurred in a more affluent area.

Five teenagers were arrested in connection with the shooting. Four of them have since pleaded guilty to various charges.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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