Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said Wednesday that she has no intention of disbanding a police department beset by distrust stemming from the federal corruption investigation that concluded this week after convicting a total of eight city officers.
“I’m not disbanding the police department,” Pugh said at her weekly Wednesday news conference.
Del. Bilal Ali, a Baltimore Democrat, proposed disbanding the police department and rebuilding it in ways that could restore trust with the community. He pointed to how troubled Camden, N.J., reconstituted its police department five years ago, resulting in what officials there say are better community relations and declines in crime.
Pugh said Wednesday that the city is seeing an encouraging decline in crime so far this year after Baltimore recorded 342 homicides in 2017, a per-capita record.
“We’re trending downward,” Pugh said. “We’re headed in the right direction.”
In reaction to Bilal’s suggestion — which he sent in a letter to Pugh on Monday after a federal jury found two detectives guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and robbery charges — Pugh said the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department mandates reforms that she is confident will change the police department’s culture and practices.
The jobs of the decree’s federal monitor and community oversight panel are to assure those reforms are “fully implemented in a way that ultimately renews the trust and confidence of our citizens,” a Pugh spokesman said in an email.