More than two dozen state correctional officers were charged with 236 crimes related to complaints of excessive force by detainees at state-run Baltimore jails, officials announced Tuesday.
The officers, who were part of the Baltimore Central Regional Tactical Unit, worked in pre-trial jail facilities in the state and face charges including first- and second-degree assault, conspiracy and misconduct in office.
The charges were announced Tuesday by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby (D) and Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Robert Green.
The accused officers were out of the facilities on administrative leave before the charges were filed; they will be suspended without pay pending the outcome of their trials, Green announced.
DPSCS started investigating in 2018 after receiving information about unnecessary force that may have been used in a single case.
The investigation grew to include incidents as far back as 2016 as the department’s Intelligence and Investigative Division’s detectives pored through records and surveillance videos for several years’ worth of cases, interviewing dozens of staff and detainees.
Since 2016, more than 200 officers, inmates and accomplices have been charged with corruption within state prisons, part of a focus of the administration of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
“From the first day of our administration, we have been working diligently to root out wrongdoing and corruption no matter where it is taking place, including in the state’s correctional system,” Hogan said in a statement. “…We are again making clear that we have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for corruption of any kind in our state prison system or anywhere else in state government.”
Charges in the case include conspiracy under the state’s criminal gang statute, which Hogan supported strengthening.
Since Hogan took office, DPSCS has more than doubled the number of Intelligence and Investigative Division detectives, who have full police powers, according to the administration.
“This is a very conscious and deliberate part of our public safety work within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services,” Green said in a statement. “Governor Hogan has made this a priority of his administration from day one. That mission includes working every day to assure that those incarcerated within our system are treated with dignity and respect, that our correctional professionals are supported when acts of violence are committed against them, and that inmates and detainees are not able to continue the criminal enterprises which brought them to our system.”
The Baltimore Sun reported that the indictment identifies the tactical unit’s supervisor as the “organizer, supervisor, promoter and manager” of the criminal enterprise, and outlined 47 incidents of alleged assault against detainees.
“Today’s indictment demonstrates my office’s commitment to ensuring one standard of justice for all regardless of one’s race, sex, religion, or occupation. If you break the law, and break the trust and authority the public has placed in you, you will face the consequences,” Mosby said in a statement.
Green said the “disturbing case” should not cast a shadow on upstanding members of the department.
“The correctional officer’s badge is a badge of honor,” he said. “The profession is essential public safety work. We take an oath to protect and serve, and will not tolerate those who tarnish the badge and bring dishonor to the profession. We have 8,000-plus employees, dedicated men and women who do incredible work every day under difficult circumstances.”