Tags: Baltimore Riots | Batts | Baltimore | police | charges | surprised | police

Balt. Police Commissioner: 'We're Part of the Problem'

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 07:01 PM

Baltimore's police commissioner says he didn't know six of his officers would be charged in Freddie Gray's death until 10 minutes before State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped the news bombshell on national TV.

In his first interview after Gray's death, Commissioner Anthony Batts tells CNN he was "probably surprised" about the charges in the case of Gray, who died of injuries he sustained in police custody.

"And then my mind started going to, what is going to be the response in community?" he told CNN, adding: "My officers, how do I keep them engaged, how do I keep them focused on getting their job done as a whole?"

A second-degree, "depraved heart" murder charge was lodged against the driver of the van in which Gray was placed after his arrest April 12; the other officers face charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest.

Batts was indirectly critical of Mosby, however, describing a large and intense investigation by police compared with the much-smaller group working the case for the state's attorney.

"She didn't want to be seen connected to the police organization, so the communication was limited as compared to what I'm used to," he tells CNN.

Batts says he knows the community doesn't trust law enforcement —  and police have to accept "we are part of the problem."

"The community needs to hear that," he tells CNN. "The community needs to hear from us that we haven't been part of the solution, and now we have to evolve. Now we have to change."

He says he wants to start a program modeled after one in Los Angeles to have police working inside housing complexes.

"It's going to be a long journey," he said. "This isn't going to be a short journey. You can see the distrust that's out there, and we have to find inroads to sit down with people — to show care, to show empathy."

But the commissioner also spoke of the mistakes his department made as protests raged. For one thing, he says, police weren't prepared for the sheer numbers and violence of the demonstrations.

Batts said his officers sometimes lacked the shields, helmets, and other needed gear, and the department had planned for moving 200 to 300 officers at a time.

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Baltimore's police commissioner says he didn't know six of his officers would be charged in Freddie Gray's death until 10 minutes before State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped the news bombshell on national TV.
Batts, Baltimore, police, charges, surprised, police, part of problem
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2015-01-05
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 07:01 PM
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