Batts' messages to police department, operations plan redacted

Batts communicates to staff about unrest in Baltimore, agency redacts operations plan.

Former Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts commended the city's officers for their "restraint, professionalism, and attention to duty" in the handling of the protests before the rioting on April 27.

"I am proud and truly humbled to lead this organization," Batts wrote to the police department at 8 a.m. April 26. "You stood tall in the face of challenge after challenge and you were a credit to the city and your families today."

Batts told the officers there would be "challenging days" ahead.

"We will be tested, and as today showed, many will try to provoke you just to record a response," he said.

Much of the police department's internal plan wasn't contained in the documents provided Monday to The Baltimore Sun.

For instance, a "civil disturbance" operations plan was included in the documents, but much was redacted from public review. The document does show that police prepared the plan for May 1 and May 2, which the agency warned "may result in possible large scale public mass demonstrations."

"The demonstration may have elements contained within which turn violent and destructive. This may result in widespread assaults on citizens and police officers, looting, vandalism, and arson. The resources of the Baltimore City Police and Fire Departments will be taxed far beyond the ability to be met by normal or enhanced staffing levels."

The document said it was the agency's "primary mission" to "protect the life and property, and maintain civil order for the citizens of Baltimore."

"The end state is to protect the right of all citizens to peacefully assemble and conduct free speech activities as guaranteed under the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, while preventing any incidence of criminal conduct such as assault, arson, looting or vandalism," the report says.

The 40-page document contains maps and deployment assignments, most of them redacted. One page lists "Rioters Most Dangerous Course of Action," and "Rioters Most Likely Course of Action"; both fields are redacted.

Batts sent another message to the police department on May 1, entitled "police commissioner's message."

"I know many of you have very conflicted emotions today," Batts wrote. "We are a family and we will get through the next few days and weeks as a family. No matter what assignment you have, we are all in this together."

Batts urges the officers not to "waiver in the face of adversity or difficult times."

"We are sworn to protect the people of Baltimore," he said. "We must be the line that protects the innocent. We must be there for each other. In the days ahead you will have many conflicting emotions and feelings. That is understandable and normal.

"Don't be afraid to talk about those feelings with a trusted friend or mentor. There may be further protests. Continue to show the world the dignity of demeanor you have demonstrated over the last few days."

ywenger@baltsun.com

twitter.com/yvonnewenger

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