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Baltimore police recruits receive badge, gun in ceremony, despite concerns about academy training

Baltimore police held a ceremony Saturday morning bestowing a gun and a badge to new recruits as they begin on-the-street training, despite concerns raised by an instructor.

The event went on as planned even though Sgt. Josh Rosenblatt, the police academy’s head of legal instruction, told The Baltimore Sun on Friday that he believes a third of the recruit class lacked a basic understanding of the laws governing constitutional policing.

“We’re giving them a badge and a gun tomorrow, the right to take someone’s liberty, ultimately the right to take someone’s life if it calls for it, and they have not demonstrated they can meet [basic] constitutional and legal standards,” Rosenblatt told the Sun on Friday.

Police spokeswoman Chakia Fennoy confirmed that the badge pinning ceremony was held Saturday morning. A spokeswoman for Mayor Catherine Pugh said the mayor spoke at the event.

Rosenblatt said some recruits repeatedly failed legal tests, causing academy officials to return to an older, less-rigorous multiple-choice test, which every recruit then passed.

Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa defended the testing, saying it met state standards but that he is looking into academy instructor’s concerns and reviewing the curriculum.

“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 told the Sun on Friday. “They won’t be allowed to go on the streets. It’s plain and simple.”

The police department said the recruits still must complete eight weeks of training on the street before formally becoming Baltimore police officers.

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