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Bernstein appoints police integrity prosecutor

Private defense attorney Janice Bledsoe will leave her firm to join the Baltimore prosecutors' office as head of the new Police Integrity Unit, State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein announced Thursday.

The division replaces a Police Misconduct Unit created a decade ago under his predecessor, Patricia Jessamy, and is the result of a "comprehensive review and reorganization," according to a statement.

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"It is vital to maintaining public trust in our criminal justice system that the state's attorney's office acts vigilantly to ensure that allegations of police misconduct are thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted," Bernstein said in the statement. "This is why I immediately focused my attention on reviewing the unit and developing a plan to improve its performance."

City officers have recently been implicated in a towing company extortion scheme, and payouts in civil misconduct cases cost Baltimore about a million dollars each year, said City Solicitor George Nilson.

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Bernstein, who took office in January, had previously declined to say whether he intended to maintain a separate police-prosecution unit or try another model.

-Tricia Bishop

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