Baltimore’s arrests for gun crimes have sharply declined since the indictment of several of their officers. Baltimore Police created a Gun Trace Task Force in an attempt to rid its streets of some of the illegal firearms floating around. The task force has since been disbanded and 8 of the 9 officers that made up the task force are under indictment, some have already plead guilty. The members face a number of charges including robbery, fraud, and corruption.
Seven members of the task force were indicted in march and an eighth in August. The authorities under indictment include: Sargent Thomas Allers, Sargent Wayne Jenkins, Detective Momodu Gondo, Detective Daniel Hersl, Detective Evodio Hendrix, Detective Jemell Rayam, Detective Marcus Taylor and Detective Maurice Ward. John Clewell was the only officer in the Gun Trace Task Force who has not been indicted. Clewell has been suspended with pay pending this investigation.
The officers have been accused of stealing money and drugs from suspects. They have also been accused of providing false information in their reports. Officers under indictment in this case have been charged with fraud and are believed to have filed for overtime and received compensation without actually working the hours.
Prosecutors say in August of 2016, Clewell, Jenkins, and Hersl were conducting surveillance on a man outside of a storage warehouse and subsequently arrested the man. Upon returning to the storage facility with the suspect, Hersl and Jenkins reportedly stole $7,000 from the man’s vehicle. While Clewell left to prepare a search warrant, Jenkins is accused of stealing two kilograms of cocaine from the scene.
Detective Jemell Rayam engaged in an even more sinister plot. David Rahim and Thomas Finnegan teamed up with Rayam in a plot to rob a pet store owner of $20,000. Rayam used his connections as a Detective in Baltimore to locate the store owners home. Rayam then provided his cohorts with tactical gear so they could pose as police officers.
Rayam drove them to the store owners home and provided cover outside in case any police showed up. Rahim and Finnegan then approached the home and moved the security cameras which would have captured the incident. Posing as police officers they entered the home holding the people inside at gun-point at which point the men relieved the house of $20,000. This was allegedly at the direction of Rayam, whom they split the proceeds with. Detective Allers alone was indicted by a grand jury for stealing over $90,000 from several suspects between 2014 and 2016.
Rayam and Gondo have since plead guilty to various counts including federal racketeering charges. The duo has also admitted to helping a drug crew. They both testified as witnesses to crimes committed by the drug crew they allegedly aided.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has shut down the Gun Trace Task Force. The move comes as most of the officers who participated in the program are under indictment. Since the special unit has been disbanded, the city has seen an overall drop in gun crime arrest.
The 25% drop in gun crime arrests could be a result of the officers under indictment no longer engaging in illegal searches and seizures. The officers’ indictments have also impacted the cases if anyone who was previously arrested by the officers.
The cases in which the officers participated are now under full review. It is reported that the city has dropped at least 75 cases so far. Because the officers’ behavior has undermined many of their cases, the city of Baltimore is continuing to drop charges on arrestees.
All of the arrests where the cases are not dropped, made by the officers in question, will now be challenged by the defendants in court. Furthermore, any evidence provided by the arresting officers will be challenged as well. This could become a nightmare for the prosecuting attorneys.
District Action Teams, who report to a commander in their district, have since been tasked with enforcing gun crime laws. These teams are reported to have closer oversight, and therefore more accountability, than the Gun Trace Task Force was subject to. The Baltimore Police are committed to providing the community with far better service in the future.
This investigation probably saved many citizens of Baltimore from the criminal activity these officers may have continued to engaged in. The citizens of Baltimore are thankful.