Call it an extreme case of Karma, but the Baltimore Sun is reporting that all but one member of an elite Baltimore Police Department gun trace task force have been indicted on “federal racketeering charges.”
Seven members of the unit were indicted by a federal grand jury in March and an eighth member was charged last month, the newspaper said. The charges reportedly include overtime fraud, robbing suspects and filing false paperwork.
The ninth officer, who has not been indicted and apparently is a witness in the investigation, has been suspended since the March indictments. At that time, the task force was disbanded.
The gun trace task force was reportedly involved in raids on homes with the primary target being firearms. The effort was aimed at reducing the city’s violent crime rates. Last year, the city racked up 318 homicides, second only to the body count in 2015 when murders hit an all-time high of 344 slayings. In 2014, the city reported another 211 homicides.
According to a brief Google search, Baltimore has a population of about 623,000.
Meanwhile, Seattle – a city of some 700,000 – had about 20 homicides in 2016 and 24 killings in 2015, according to Seattle Police data. Yet, in Seattle there are far more legally-armed citizens. Seattle is in King County, the most populous county in Washington State and the one with the highest number of concealed pistol licenses.
Baltimore, meanwhile, is in Baltimore County, in a state where it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, for an average citizen to obtain a carry permit. Indeed, Washington State has about 590,000 active concealed pistol licenses.
According to the Baltimore Sun story, the eight indicted cops – two of whom have pleaded guilty – “are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from suspects from 2014 through late 2016. Some are also accused of conspiring to defraud the department of thousands of dollars in unearned overtime.”
There is nothing in the story about the failure of this gun task force’s activities to reduce the murder rate, and the unit was dissolved in March when the indictments were handed down, the newspaper said. Still, there were 26 fewer slayings in the city last year than in 2015.