WASHINGTON — A scathing after-action report from Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 criticizes the leadership of the Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor during April’s riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death.
On April 25, a planned march in downtown Baltimore that was meant to be peaceful turned violent and destructive. On the afternoon of April 27, the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral, riots erupted in West Baltimore and a state of emergency was declared.
FOP President Gene Ryan said Wednesday that officers who were surveyed reported that those in leadership roles “seemed unprepared, politically motivated, uncaring and confused.”
Officers also said “on-site commanders were ill prepared to lead” and “were unfamiliar with the tactics, personnel and equipment needed to handle the incidents they faced.”
Orders were given, the report says, for officers not to engage any protestors, not to wear protective equipment so as not to look intimidating, and not make arrests without permission from the legal advisors.
The report mentions the press conference during which Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the media that “those who wished to destroy” during the April 25 demonstration near Camden Yards were given “space to do that.”
Rawlings-Blake later denied making the remark.
The report also accuses Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Commissioner Anthony Batts of pointing fingers and shifting blame.
“When questions arose surrounding the management of the Baltimore Police Department, Rawlings-Blake and Batts issued scathing public attacks on the rank and file,” it says.
Another accusation made against Batts in the report: He allegedly said he didn’t think National Guard assistance would be necessary when Ryan advised that officers were overwhelmed and suggested calling in backup for planned protests on the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral.
Governor Larry Hogan ended up signing an Executive Order to activate the National Guard after riots erupted that day, April 27.
Ultimately, the report made 24 recommendations for potential future conflicts, including providing the proper equipment, relevant training and clear communication.
Mayor’s office spokesman Kevin Harris issued a statement in response to the FOP’s after-action report Wednesday afternoon.
“It is disappointing that the FOP continues to issue baseless and false information instead of working with us to find solutions that will protect our officers,” he says.
“The FOP is using the same sad playbook they relied on when they opposed our efforts to reform state laws and hold officers who act out of line accountable for their actions. Our hope was that this report would shed some additional light on how we can better prepare our officers should there be future unrest. Instead this report is no more than a trumped up political document full of baseless accusations, finger pointing and personal attacks.”
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