Baltimore Police Officers Break Silence on Riots, Murder Spike and Freddie Gray

Brooke Baldwin and Dana Ford, CNN, June 10, 2015

Forty-two people were killed in Baltimore in May, making it the deadliest month there since 1972.

When asked what’s behind that number, a Baltimore police officer gave an alarming answer. Basically, he said, the good guys are letting the bad guys win.

“The criminal element feels as though that we’re not going to run the risk of chasing them if they are armed with a gun, and they’re using this opportunity to settle old beefs, or scores, with people that they have conflict with,” the officer said. “I think the public really, really sees that they asked for a softer, less aggressive police department, and we have given them that, and now they are realizing that their way of thinking does not work.”

He was one of two active Baltimore police officers who spoke to CNN on Tuesday about crime in their city. {snip}

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Both said the Baltimore Police Department is simply reacting to events instead of being proactive. They talked about feeling abandoned by their leadership and feeling scared–not about being hurt, necessarily, but about being charged criminally for doing what they see as their job. {snip}

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He denied the existence of a work slowdown but said he couldn’t promise proactive policing.

“Even though you have reasonable suspicion,” he said, “nine out of 10 times, that officer is going to keep on driving.”

{snip}

Both officers complained about the response to the riots that rocked Baltimore after Gray’s death. Businesses were burned and looted, and at least 100 officers were injured in the violence that began in late April.

The officers said they would have pushed for a stronger and more immediate show of force.

“We were told to not engage. When I say not engage–to allow the people to throw whatever items were being thrown at us, and just hold the line,” said the first officer, who recalled feeling scared. “I think if they would have just allowed us to get the perpetrators that were instigating it, it would have de-escalated a whole lot quicker.”

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Part of [Freddie Gray’s] arrest was captured on cell phone video that went viral. It shows him being dragged by officers and loaded into a transport van. What happened inside that van has become a source of intense speculation.

“When you’re looking at the lives of six police officers, there can be no guessing. There can be no speculation. That’s what the medical examiner is for,” said the first officer, when asked how he believes Gray died.

The second officer talked about compliance and said the officers involved did “nothing wrong.”

“If you’re compliant, you will not have to be engaged by officers. Force has to be used with equal force,” he said.

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