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‘America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad’: Baltimore And The Gun Trace Task Force

A person walks past a police car in Baltimore, Maryland.
A person walks past a police car in Baltimore, Maryland.

As calls for systemic change in law enforcement continue across the country, many police departments and police unions have pushed back on potential reform, warning that it would lead to increased crime.

In Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was killed by police officers in 2015, many were quick to cite the city as an early adopter of police reform when six individuals were charged for Gray’s death.

But the new book “I Got A Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad,” reveals the deep corruption in a special task force that resulted in the arrest and conviction of several police officers.

Under Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, they conducted unconstitutional traffic stops, committed robbery, and sold drugs. Using court details and evidence that came out of the federal trial, authors Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg reconstructed how the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force operated with impunity in a community that already felt “over-policed, yet underserved.”

We talk with Woods and Soderberg about the Gun Trace Task Force and what it tells us about efforts to reform the police.

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

Kaity Kline
Kaity Kline is an Assistant Producer at Morning Edition and Up First. She started at NPR in 2019 as a Here & Now intern and has worked at nearly every NPR news magazine show since.