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How Baltimore might reform policing

The Baltimore City Police Department is deeply flawed and nothing that has been done so far is going to address that. The recent flood of news stories about members of the department are an indication that unless Mayor Catherine Pugh takes action soon, things are only going to get worse.

The death of Freddie Gray two years ago opened a window to the world that showed there were some problems with the way members of the department interacted with citizens. What we have seen in recent months has only deepened the suspicions of some that there something truly wrong ("Baltimore police's integrity problem," July 20).

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The state of policing in Baltimore reminds me of New York City where I lived as a law student in the 1970s. The New York Police Department was rife with corruption and poor leadership, which had led to mistreatment of residents. Officers were found to have planted evidence and stolen money and drugs from drug dealers. Officers abused overtime and routinely took bribes. Officers abused the public trust placed in them to enrich themselves. The commanders, captains, lieutenants and sergeants had either become part of the corruption or they were totally incompetent. Sound familiar? The city's mayor appointed a blue ribbon commission, the Knapp Commission, to investigate the department.

The commission held hearings and issued findings in a report which recommended that commanders should be held accountable for their subordinates' actions and they should file periodic reports on key aspects that would breed corruption. Field offices of the internal affairs division should be created at all precincts. Undercover informants should be placed in all precincts. The department should improve screening and selection methods and standards for all new recruits and for promotions. And, finally, the commission recommended a change in police attitudes.

In addition to those things contained in the the consent decree that the U.S. Department of Justice and Baltimore officials entered into, the same goals that the Knapp Commission recommended must be put in place in Baltimore.

Roland Nicholson Jr., New York, N.Y.

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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