Government Accountability, Police Misconduct, and Baltimore's Gun Trace Task Force

February 15, 2018

The following comment may be attributed to David Rocah, Senior Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland:


"The City's decision to absolve itself of any civil responsibility for the criminal actions of the GTTF officers is neither a step forward for police accountability, nor fair to the victims of their criminal actions.  Instead, it will, once again, shift the cost of the BPD's own repeated and systemic failures onto the people who have been victimized.


"We support holding officers individually accountable for paying for the harm they have inflicted.  But the City must be held accountable for its own responsibility in these cases too, and should not back away from paying damages that are meant to compensate people for the harm they have suffered.


"In the GTTF case, many of the illegal acts the officers engaged in were done while on duty, and by means of the power given to them by the Baltimore Police Department, as the criminal indictment itself said, and as the trial proved.  The City - which hired, supervised and failed to discipline or fire these officers - bears  responsibility for these crimes.  It cannot simply wash its hands of the matter and leave victims without any remedy.  That is not police accountability.  That is an abdication of responsibility.


"The best course of action is for the City to compensate victims for the harm they have suffered and for the City - not the victim - to pursue reimbursement from the officer who engaged in misconduct.  This will ensure that both officers and the City are incentivized to actually try to prevent misconduct in the first place."