Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts announced tonight that the department was inviting an outside review of its handling of the April riot, protests, and demonstrations that occurred in April and early May, following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.
“The Police Commissioner has asked the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to conduct the review. The process begins tomorrow with a roundtable discussion involving law enforcement agencies from across the region who assisted during the unrest,” the department said in a press release.
The announcement comes the day before the police union is set to release its own independent “after-action report.”
The department has faced criticism for its handling of the unrest in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Some have said that police exacerbated or even triggered the rioting at Mondawmin Mall on April 27, when a large group of officers converged on the parking lot there just as a mass of school students arrived—many of them trying to change buses, which were then shut down.
As the rocks started to fly and fires were set, police officers were told to “hold the line” and not intervene. Dozens of cops were injured and many buildings and vehicles burned. In the ensuing days, police enforcement of an evening curfew was criticized.
“An independent, outside analysis of the events that transpired, conducted by nationally recognized experts in policing, will help the department be better able to serve the people of Baltimore,” the police press release says. “This request comes as the organization completes its own internal review of the incident, which will be turned over to the Police Executive Research Forum.”