US Marijuana Party

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hearing set on arrest policy

By Gus G. Sentementes
Baltimore Sun, United States
January 4, 2006

The Baltimore Police Department's arrest practices are to be scrutinized today at a public hearing after criticism that officers have arrested thousands of people who were ultimately never charged with any crimes.

Critics have characterized the arrests as illegal and have called on Mayor Martin O'Malley and police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm to curtail the policy that they say focuses on harassing and arresting people for minor offenses such as loitering.

City prosecutors typically decline to prosecute about one of three arrests in which officers believe they have observed evidence of a crime being committed. About one-quarter to one-third of those declined cases each month are deemed "abated by arrest," meaning that a prosecutor determines that the alleged illegal activity was stopped with the suspect's arrest, according to prosecutors.

The remainder of cases, which can number in the hundreds each month, are declined by prosecutors for other reasons, such as insufficient evidence that a crime was committed, based on statements supplied by police in charging documents.

The city police set a record for arrests in August when prosecutors reviewed 8,964 arrests, nearly 1,300 more than the preceding month. Prosecutors declined to take 2,961 cases, about 33 percent.


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