The Culture of Misconduct

As the federal criminal trial of former Baltimore and Philadelphia cop Eric Snell begins, it again shines a spotlight on the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), corruption within the Baltimore Police Department, and specifically the culture of plainclothes policing.

With the media again focused on BPD, of course cops will flock to defend their department and categorically deny any hint of wrongdoing in specialized and plainclothes units.

During today’s testimony, former GTTF detective Momodu “G-Money” Gondo, who has already plead guilty, testified that stealing was ingrained in the culture of plainclothes policing in BPD. When local crime reporter Justin Fenton tweeted out the statement, current and former cops were quick to cry ‘bullshit.’

But is it bullshit? This isn’t a fluke. This isn’t “bad apples” or a one-off incident. This is a continued pattern in the BPD.

Here are a few examples of some “bullshit” the BPD has been involved in after I was hired in 1999…

In the early 2000s officers King and Murray who robbed drug dealers.

Officer Daniel Redd who sold drugs while on-duty.

The Southwest Flex Unit who ran the gamut of misconduct.

Drug dealing officer Kendal Richburg arrested by the FBI and then years later his former partner Spencer Moore was arrested.

Lieutenant Steven Bagshaw who was paid for thousands of dollars in overtime for hours he didn’t work.

An entire specialized unit writing false reports.

The GTTF.

And those are just some of the ones that made headlines. There are countless other incidents that never became public and officers were either terminated, resigned or quietly allowed to retire while under investigation.

Stealing doesn’t necessarily have to refer to taking drugs, property or physical currency. There were many ways to steal in the BPD. I know because I saw how easy it was firsthand.

Later in my career, when I became an Internal Affairs Detective, I investigated several cases involving theft and overtime fraud. I was involved in investigating a Shootings Squad and the Homicide Unit for fraudulent overtime. Those cases were closed and the supervisors who made the complaints removed. Overtime fraud was nearly impossible to prove due to the lack of departmental oversight. That and the fact that it felt like the entire department was involved in some sort of overtime scam. Even the eventual major of Internal Affairs had his own overtime scandal and was mentioned during GTTF related testimony. 

From 2006-2008 I was a member of the Special Enforcement Team (SET). That unit was comprised of four squads of officers, two uniformed squads and two plainclothes squads. The unit was branded the “Steal Everything Team” by other BPD cops. One entire squad was suspended for allegations of misconduct, including stealing a large sum of cash from a man that turned out to be money he received in a worker’s comp lawsuit.  An officer in my squad abruptly resigned after he was accused of stealing money from a drug dealer. 

One of the first things I was taught in the SET unit was how to manipulate overtime. If my squad was scheduled to work 6pm-2am, we would come in and work a double shift. So 10am-6pm would be overtime. But we didn’t actually do much work. We would usually complete reports from the night before, go eat lunch, lift weights, hangout around the office and basically just goof off. So, yeah, we were technically AT work, we just weren’t doing any actual police work.

I did it. I took the easy money. I’m not proud of it and I’m ashamed I never had the guts to say no, but there is another culture that is ingrained in police departments, the culture of punishing “rats.” 

I ran into that culture in Internal Affairs too when I was paid a visit by Wayne Jenkins in the parking lot after work. I spent a good amount of time looking over my shoulder wondering what Jenkins and his goons had planned for me. I investigated him and his unit. I investigated cops he was close to. It’s not a great feeling and when you add gaslighting from other cops, I felt helpless. 

It’s not a simple decision to speak out against dirty cops. I took my concerns to my Chief who in turn informed Jenkins’ commanding officer. Nothing happened. I also saw firsthand what happened to another BPD cop who did have the courage to speak out against his fellow officers. That is a lonely island to be on and I readily admit that while I remained employed I didn’t have it in me to do it. I could also point to the death of Sean Suiter as an example of what happens if cops think you’re going to snitch, though that is only a conspiracy theory, or so I’ve been told.

So yes, by remaining silent and continuing to work for BPD, I am complicit in the culture of misconduct. I wanted to keep my head down and collect my pension. That didn’t work out for me though and here I am, maybe too little too late.

What Gondo said on the stand today isn’t “bullshit.” Cops lie, cheat and steal. They will do anything and everything to protect themselves and their department. The sad thing is they think it’s normal.