Baltimore Police hid toy guns in case ‘of a jam,’ in addition to other crimes
The police department in Baltimore should be tired of being the subject of news at this point. But yet again we find ourselves talking about the ways in which they are emblematic of the problems within law enforcement in this country. In what is sure to be only the latest scandal involving this city’s police department, officers have been discovered to carry toy guns around just in case they encounter an unarmed suspect and need a plausible reason to justify a deadly use of force.
In fact, according to reports by The Root and the Baltimore Sun, the allegedly elite Gun Trace Task Force had their hands in all sorts of criminal activity, revealed after police in another state began investigating a drug overdose. Two officers who currently are standing trial, Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, are unsurprisingly pleading not guilty to charges including racketeering, conspiracy, robbery, and possession of a firearm in a crime of violence.
The robbery charges stem from unlawful money seizures from drug dealers. Hersl’s lawyer is attempting to defend his client by claiming that the robberies were isolated incidents, and that since Hersel is a police officer, the seizure of money was allowable because he had already established probable cause. However, federal prosecutors say that such a defense should not be considered credible.
Taylor’s attorney did not respond to the Baltimore Sun‘s requests for comment but did file motions last week seeking to get the trial thrown out by a judge. Interestingly enough, Taylor is a large part of the biggest piece of the scandal revealed, in which he and his squad went to a suspect’s home and removed 100,000 dollars from a safe, then went to Taylor’s home to split the money five ways, each taking 20,000 dollars. The other officers involved in this particular incident are all pleading guilty.
There is an understanding within Baltimore’s Black community that this kind of thing was commonplace. According to the founder of a re-entry group called The Lazarus Rite, Christopher Ervin, “In the black community, this is not shocking at all… You get a chorus of, ‘We’ve been saying that.’ ”
Additionally, an ex-Baltimore PD officer named Llewellyn Dykes who went undercover in the 1970’s to expose cops who allowed gambling rackets to continue unimpeded spoke to the Sun about the now infamous “blue wall of silence” saying:
You’ve got a very insulated group of police officers who count on each other to live… So that insularity of ‘Don’t tell and don’t disagree, don’t rock the boat, don’t say that’s illegal, don’t say stop beating that person, don’t say stop stealing from that person’ is enforced by the need for unity on the streets. You have a separation in law enforcement circles of those who are susceptible, and those who are not. Those who are susceptible continue to gravitate towards illegal activity unless there’s something to prevent them from doing so.