The Baltimore Police Department is currently in court over one of the biggest scandals in the history of American law enforcement. During police testimonies, it was revealed that officers with Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force stole drugs and cash from suspects, conducted unlawful searches, abused overtime allowances, and kept replica guns to plant if they shot an unarmed person.
It started when a 19-year-old woman from New Jersey overdosed in 2011 and authorities began tracing the origin of the drugs. It led them to a Baltimore drug crew and the discovery that a Baltimore police officer was involved. By the end of the investigation, 8 members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force had been charged with crimes ranging from racketeering to robbery, reported The Baltimore Sun.
On January 23, trial began for 2 members of the task force who plead not guilty, Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor.
Detective Maurice Ward, one of the officers who plead guilty, took the stand and discussed the behavior exhibited by himself and his co-defendants,reported the Baltimore Sun.
Ward testified his crew’s supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, instructed the officers to carry toy guns to plant if they “found themselves in a bind.” Ward said the officers kept BB guns in their police cars “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them.”
The corruption went much deeper than simply planting guns.
In just 1 instance, members on the Task Force found a man’s address, went to the home without a warrant and found drugs and money. After finding about $200,000 inside a safe, the officers took $100,000 out, closed the safe back up, then filmed themselves pretending to open it for the first time.
“Nobody touch anything,” Sgt. Jenkins can be heard saying on the video, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Ex-detective Jemell Rayam, who pleaded guilty, said the officers once recovered a pound and a half of marijuana and a gun, and Jenkins told him to “just get rid of it.” Rayam said he and another officer sold the drugs and gun back onto the street.
The trial is expected to last another two or three weeks, and it is anybody’s guess what type of corruption will come out during the rest of the trial.