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Taking a look at Baltimore Police reforms since Freddie Gray

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Posted at 7:52 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2018-12-31 14:55:15-05

Almost from the moment Freddie Gray's death was announced, the Baltimore Police Department started rolling out reforms designed to increase internal police accountability and improve community relations.

Commissioner Kevin Davis has continued a push for those changes over the past 14 months.

"He makes it mandatory now that new police officers must walk the beat their first 3.5 months he now has brought unbiased training into the police department," said Congressman Elijah Cummings.

One of the biggest changes was the addition of body worn cameras to the department. In May, the first body worn cameras were issued to Baltimore officers.

 

Twenty-five officers are trained at a time with the hope of having all officers trained in the next 18 months.

Once activated, the cameras back up 30 seconds and officers can review the footage on their Android phones unless they use force. The system also stops officers in the field from modifying the video.

And Maryland lawmakers recognize the efforts and on board with them.

 
"Some of the things that we went through Annapolis to do are already being put in place.  Body cameras are now in place, cameras inside of vans, are in place and as the police commissioner has discussed with me, we now have more rules and regulations going out to police officers," senator Catherine Pugh said.
 
Cameras also played a role in another big change for the department. Not all police transport vans were equipped with cameras at the time of Gray's death, and while the van transporting him did, it was broken at the time.

In February, the city board of estimates approved $187,00 to outfit Baltimore transport wagons with video recording system.

See also: Baltimore Police introducing new prisoner transport vans

A point brought up numerous times in the trials in the Freddie Gray case, was that a new order making it mandatory to belt prisoners in transport vans was issued days before Gray's arrest. It was never proven, however, whether or not officers William Porter, Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson or Lt. Brian Rice had read that order.

Another change involved departmental emails. Davis instituted software to ensure officers not only receive new policy changes via email, but the department will know if the officer read and acknowledged it. 
 
 

 

Cummings said Davis has also made an effort to improve officer relationships within the communities they serve.

 

"He's also brought a cultural training, some people don't even know who they're policing. Some policemen come out into the force and never have they even stepped foot in communities like the one l live in," Cummings said.

Davis also announced in January that disciplinary hearings for officers before the BPD trial board will be streamed live into a room at police headquarters in order to increase transparency. The public is allowed to watch proceedings in that room.

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