In our last post, we mentioned the recent news that documentation of a stop-and-frisk cited as a model example by Commisioner Anthony Batts back in 2013 is now missing. As we noted, there is currently an internal investigation to determine what happened to records of that accident.
Documentation of the incident has generated attention because of the fact that Batts’ description of the investigative stop has raised questions about its propriety, despite having been put forward as a model of proper execution of the tactic.
According to his account from 2013, Batts approached a man in the Coldstreatm-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood who had been identified by a confidential informant as an “enforcer” for the Black Guerilla Family gang. Batts reports approaching the man in order to talk to him and pat him down for weapons, with the aim of letting the man know that Batts knew he was a hit man.
Batts’ reported execution of the stop-and-frisk has been questioned by some legal experts on the grounds that officers are required to personally observe suspicious behavior before conducting a stop-and-frisk, absent the suspect’s consent to the search. Relying on a confidential informant to provide information of suspicious behavior, it is argued, would not give rise to reasonable suspicion.
Officers are expected, of course, to follow the law in conducting police investigations, and when the authority responsible for training officers in using an investigative tactic arguably doesn’t understand how to use the technique properly, this is a cause for concern. No doubt, we’ll be hearing more about this issue in the coming weeks and months as the public continues to demand accountability from the Baltimore Police Department.