BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner came in making big promises to the inner-city residents and police who spent decades staring each other down in neighborhoods ravaged by crack and heroin.
Two and a half years into his job leading the city’s police department, Commissioner Anthony Batts is frustrated that the people he was appointed to serve have lost their faith in justice.
Six officers have been suspended with pay since Freddie Gray died of a spinal injury he suffered during an arrest Batts characterized as questionable.
Both Batts and the mayor, who took office in 2010, are African-American and no strangers to communities like Sandtown, a set of public housing projects not far from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Orioles’ baseball stadium where Gray tried to outrun three bicycle cops who spotted him on a street corner on April 12.
— Trayvon Scott, 30, arrested on a charge of attempted murder, died in custody in February 2015 after showing signs of distress in a holding cell.
[…] the Justice Department has opened a second probe, by its Civil Rights division, examining Gray’s death.
The future Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate imposed a “zero tolerance” policy that did reduce crime, but also resulted in thousands of arrests without cause.
“When we adopted zero tolerance policing we were embedding in the police culture this mindset of being at war with the citizenry,” said Sonia Kumar, an attorney at the ACLU.
Batts and the mayor said they’re still battling the legacy of this zero tolerance policy: “Although crime decreased, the high number of arrests for minor offenses ignited a rift between the citizens and the police, which still exists today,” they wrote in a report last year.
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