Baltimore’s police department already was notorious.
But last year, eight former police officers were convicted on federal racketeering charges stemming from an FBI investigation. They belonged to an elite task force charged with getting guns off the city’s streets. Instead, the plainclothes cops roamed Baltimore neighborhoods, robbing people on the street; breaking into homes to steal money, drugs or guns; and planting evidence on their victims.
The Gun Trace Task Force targeted both drug dealers and ordinary residents. In one of their favorite tactics, they’d drive their car toward a street corner where a group of men were standing. Then they’d chase whoever ran and shake them down. On top of all this, the officers falsified their timesheets to almost double their salaries.
This episode of Reveal asks whether the task force was simply a rogue operation or whether the officers were aided and abetted by fellow cops and even supervisors within the department.
Cops On a Crime Spree was reported by Mary Rose Madden; Deborah George was the senior editor.
Our producer was Anayansi Diaz-Cortes and we had research help from Ben Spier at WYPR.