Baltimore prosecutors and top police officials met Friday to try to mend relations, which have frayed since six officers were charged earlier this month in the death of Freddie Gray.
Since the charges against the officers, local police have complained that the case by State’s Attorney for Baltimore Marilyn Mosby has sowed legal doubt about when they can pursue suspects who run away from them in high crime neighborhoods.
Mosby’s office, in response to questions from CNN about whether she planned to issue legal guidance to police, said she is working to improve coordination.
“Since the beginning of this administration, we have been collaborating with the Baltimore Police Department and continue to do so. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and some of her deputies met with the BPD command staff today to identify training needs and develop strategies to improve cases,” Mosby spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said Friday.
A surge in violent crime, including 38 murders in May, along with a drop in the number of arrests made by police, have added to the acrimony between police and Mosby, whose office is supposed to work closely with the department to tackle the crime problem.
Mosby initially charged officers with false imprisonment, calling illegal even the initial arrest of Gray. Police have said they pursued Gray in part because he took off running when he saw police. The arresting officers said they found an illegal knife on Gray. But Mosby initially called the knife legal under Maryland law and used that as a lynchpin of her case. When a grand jury indicted the officers weeks later, the false imprisonment charge was dropped.
Anthony Batts, Baltimore police commissioner, said his officers aren’t holding back in protest. But he has acknowledged he hears from officers who worry about whether they could face legal jeopardy for pursuing suspects.
“I hope they realize that what their actions are and the fact that the community needs them,” Batts told Anderson Cooper on CNN’s “AC 360” last week. “When I’m going through the roll calls, what I share with them, Anderson, is the fact that remember why you came on this job and why you put that gun belt on, why you put that badge on, and why you wear that uniform every single day, for the grandmothers and the babies and the little ones.”
He said the force is giving officers more training “to make sure that they feel safe with that. They are comfortable with that. We’ve had peer counselors in this entire week because officers needed to get steam off and share their frustrations. So for the things that we can that are tangible, we are listening to them and we are inspiring them. We are reminding them why they do the job that they do every single day because this city counts on them.”