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Top prosecutors in Baltimore, Prince George’s release list of 148 current or former police officers with credibility problems

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Top prosecutors in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City on Friday released the names of 148 current or former police officers their offices will not call to the witness stand because of concerns over disciplinary histories.

The “do-not-call” lists have historically been shielded from public view, but the prosecutors say a new law aimed at improving police accountability in Maryland allows the disclosure. The release also comes on the heels of an appeals court ruling reversing a lower court decision that allowed Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to withhold from the public a list of police officers with potential integrity issues.

The lists include officers from local, state and federal agencies whose credibility have been called into question, the prosecutors say. The majority of people on the lists have retired, were fired or left their police agencies. More than a quarter of them are still members of a police force, though police say most or all of those officers are either suspended, on administrative leave or on restricted duty.

Some criminal justice activists, who have long pushed for more transparency, said the disclosures did not go far enough. Police union leaders, who are concerned about officers’ rights, said the disclosures could jeopardize due process.

Mosby’s “do-not-call” list includes 91 officers, some of whom belonged to the police department’s now defunct Gun Trace Task Force and pleaded guilty or were convicted in federal court with a slew of abuse of power charges.

More than a quarter of the officers on the Baltimore list have pending criminal charges ranging from murder to child pornography to theft. Thirteen have been investigated or have sustained charges with the police department’s internal affairs division. The employment status is not known for about 10 percent of the people listed.

In Prince George’s, the majority of the 57 officers on State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy’s list come from the county police department, including 17 officers currently employed there and another 28 who have left. Braveboy’s list also includes 12 officers from smaller municipal departments, the FBI or Maryland State Police. Twenty officers on the list have been convicted of criminal charges including theft, misconduct in office or violent crimes; 15 have pending criminal cases; and most others are being investigated by the prosecutor’s office or have been flagged because of cases with their police department’s internal affairs division.

“The public has a right to have the best and most professional set of officers protecting and serving them,” Braveboy said in an interview. “We all rely on them, and the truth is the vast majority of officers are really good officers. It is these officers who are racist, who are not telling the truth, who really disrespect the profession, and those individuals have no place on a police department, certainly they don’t have a place on the witness stand.”

In a statement, the Prince George’s police department said that of the 17 officers still employed by the agency, seven are suspended without pay, two are on administrative leave and the rest have been reassigned to jobs that remove them from contact with the public.

The department said it was notified of Braveboy’s list earlier this week and is “committed to working with [state’s attorney’s office] to develop protocol on proper notification to our police department.”

Prosecutors’ offices have various criteria and methods to track police officers who have been accused of misconduct or that they believe have a demonstrated lack of integrity. While the government has a legal obligation to inform defendants if a witness in their case has possible credibility issues, advocates for criminal justice reform and defense attorneys have sought more complete information about officers whose conduct has been questioned.

In response to public records requests this summer from The Washington Post, half of the two dozen state’s attorney offices in Maryland, including Mosby’s, said they did not maintain lists of officers deemed potentially unreliable or whose testimonies could be problematic. Some said that was because there were few or no officers within their counties that had been in serious trouble.

Mosby’s office now says the information sought by The Post was not available because its list at the time was broader than what was requested.

Several prosecutors’ offices in Maryland have not responded to The Post’s requests. Five state’s attorneys — in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Worcester and Baltimore counties, denied release of lists this summer because they said they amounted to personnel records or were subject to other exceptions to the Maryland Public Information Act.

Under Maryland’s Anton’s Law, the new police accountability law that went into effect on Oct. 1, records of investigations into alleged police misconduct are no longer considered protected personnel records.

Mosby and Braveboy, the only two Black women who are state’s attorneys in Maryland, were the only top prosecutors to testify in support of Anton’s Law when the legislature was considering the bill earlier this year.

The legislation was part of a sweeping package of police overhaul measures designed to make policing in Maryland fairer and more transparent. The measures came after nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The police transparency bill was named for Anton Black, a 19-year-old college student who died in 2018 after being restrained by police officers on the Eastern Shore. Black’s family spent months trying to get information about his death. The legislation gives the public — including prosecutors and defense attorneys — greater access to an officer’s complaint history.

In releasing their “do-not-call” lists, Mosby and Braveboy urged Maryland’s other prosecutors to follow suit — an act of transparency that they believe holds the entire legal system to account.

“It should not fall on the only two Black women prosecutors, yet again, to be the only torch bearers for police accountability in this state,” Mosby said in an interview.

Both offices have routinely been called on to release their lists of problem officers.

In March 2020, Mosby’s office was sued by Baltimore Action Legal Team, a nonprofit also known as BALT, for the names of 305 police officers Mosby made reference to two years ago during a state hearing about the police department’s Gun Trace Task Force. Mosby has repeatedly refused to release the list.

She said the larger list — which her office calls their disclosure list — also includes the names of officers who have been accused of wrongdoing, such as sexual assault and excessive force, but have not been charged internally or criminally.

Even though the appeals court held that the list of 305 officers was not exempt from public disclosure, Mosby so far only has released a narrower list with 91 names, arguing that it would be unethical to release the broader list, which has unsubstantiated allegations.

BALT officials said Friday they were taken by surprise by the release of the 91 names.

“We don’t know what this is … This is not what we asked for,” said Iman Freeman, BALT’s executive director. “We acknowledge that this is some form of transparency, but to us it’s performative transparency.”

To be included on the narrower list, an officer must be charged with certain crimes, have made false statements or intentionally violated someone’s civil rights.

Braveboy’s office follows similar guidelines for its own list. It also includes officers who have “acted in a manner that demonstrates he/she is biased (i.e. racist, homophobic or otherwise prejudiced).” Braveboy’s office does not formally maintain a broader disclosure list.

Angelo Consoli, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge for Prince George’s County, said the union understands the desire for transparency surrounding untrustworthy officers, especially those whom have been convicted of a crime. But the FOP is concerned that publicly sharing the names of officers who have not yet had their day in court — either through the legal system or the internal trial board process — is unfair and irresponsible.

Those officers, he said, could eventually be exonerated or acquitted.

Consoli also said the union is concerned that there is no neutral arbiter to whom officers can appeal their list designation.

Mosby and Braveboy acknowledged that a prosecutor’s power to hold police accountable is limited. They work closely with law enforcement and their cases in court rely heavily on the integrity of the officers who make arrests, execute warrants and collect evidence.

But they do not have the ability to fire officers they deem unfit. That’s the job of the police departments that employ them, a process that is influenced by police unions and had been controlled in part by the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights — which was repealed in the same legislative session that passed Anton’s Law.

What prosecutors can control, Braveboy said, is whom they allow to testify in court.

In Baltimore, a committee made up of top officials in the state’s attorney’s office will review the do-not-call list every 90 days to make decisions about whether an officer’s name should be removed. Mosby said the list will be accessible on the state’s attorney’s website and updated as names are added and removed.

Braveboy’s office said it will also maintain a public facing list on its website and intends to notify the public when new names are added or removed.

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