“That’s a problem,” Maynard said. “The longer these people stay there, the more entrenched they get, and the more difficult they are to deal with.” Officials have said they suspected that White was a ringleader of the conspiracy, but they left him at the jail to avoid disrupting an FBI investigation.
Maynard said he could not comment on how other signals were seemingly missed, such as the list of guards willing to exchange sex for money or the fact that some guards had the names of inmates tattooed on their bodies. In both cases, guards openly bragged about how tough it is to be fired from the civil service job.
Maynard also said he did not know that one of the corrections officers indicted this week had been the subject of a 2006 civil lawsuit brought by an inmate in federal court alleging that she left his cell door unlocked so he could be attacked by gang members and that she withheld treatment for his 32 stab wounds.
The victim’s attorney argued that the attack was part of a larger problem of gangs infiltrating the ranks of corrections officers. The guard denied colluding with inmates; the two sides settled before going to trial. The guard kept her job, despite court records showing that the victim had uncovered a confidential report prepared in 2006 by a prison intelligence unit that identified 16 guards — including the one named in the suit — with ties to gangs such as BGF.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, who spent most of his 32-year career in California and was chief of departments in Oakland and Long Beach before coming east in September, said he has long experience with gangs.
He attributed a spike in violence last year in Baltimore to BGF, which he said has its “command and control” behind jailhouse walls and used violence to try and take over the drug trade on the city’s west side. “Some of the gangs pushed back, and we had a multitude of murders at the end of last year,” he said.
This year, Batts said, he has put more police in some neighborhoods in West Baltimore, and he now uses an intelligence unit to gather background on victims who are gang members to feed to detectives at a shooting scene.
Violence is still going up on the west side, where 17 people have been killed this year, compared with eight at this time in 2012. Not all the slayings are attributed to gangs, Batts said, but he called BGF “public enemy number one for our city.”
Annys Y. Shin and John Wagner contributed to this report.