Within weeks of taking over the Baltimore Police Department in January, Commissioner Darryl De Sousa had announced investigations or promised reviews of a slate of pressing issues — including accusations that poorly trained recruits were being pushed through the police academy, and claims of past corruption by current officers.
Months later, none of the investigations has been resolved, according to a police spokesman. Other ongoing reviews relate to the seizure of former commanders' computers amid De Sousa's hiring and his predecessor's decision to discontinue the use of plainclothes units.
De Sousa blamed the incident on an "overzealous" employee implementing his order — which he said he intended to affect just one "office" in the department. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun in January, De Sousa would not say which office he targeted, citing an ongoing internal investigation.
"I'd prefer not to say because we currently do have an investigation going, which is strictly and solely internal," he said at the time.
At least a dozen other Baltimore police officers and an assistant state’s attorney also participated in crimes or helped cover them up as they floated in and out of the Gun Trace Task Force unit's orbit, according to GTTF members' testimony and comments from federal prosecutors in the ongoing case.
De Sousa said he gave the order to cut off the office's access in order to "safeguard the community and the public by not having any information, any sensitive information, leave the walls" of the Police Department.
That investigation remains ongoing, said T.J. Smith, the department's chief spokesman.
"I am evaluating to see what best practices tell us, what the research tells us, on plainclothes, and if it has an effect on reducing crime," he said at the time.
Such units have been praised for reducing crime in the past, but also criticized for violating residents' rights. The practice was halted after members of the plainclothes Gun Trace Task Force were indicted for robbing residents and stealing and reselling guns and drugs on the streets.
"We are working diligently to investigate and hold those who tarnished the badge and violated public trust accountable for their actions," the department said in a statement at the time. "The citizens deserve better and the hardworking honorable men and women of this agency deserve better."
That investigative work is still underway, Smith said.
Also in February, De Sousa said he would look into the concerns raised by Sgt. Josh Rosenblatt, a legal instructor at the police training academy, that recruits were being pushed through without a firm understanding of core legal principles such as probable cause.
"Under my watch, there isn't going to be a single police officer who does not satisfactorily pass any Maryland police training requirements," De Sousa pledged. "They won't be allowed to go on the streets. It's plain and simple."