Baltimore to put cameras in police vans, review riot gear

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2015 2:33 PM

By Donna Owens

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Cameras that can record will be installed in Baltimore police vans like the one in which Freddie Gray suffered a fatal injury, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said on Wednesday.

She said the cameras were among steps the city was taking after protests and rioting following Gray's death in April.

"We're working through a process that will place cameras with recording capabilities in the backs of all our police vans, to ensure that we have a more complete record of what occurs there," Rawlings-Blake told reporters.

The van in which Gray was transported had a non-recording camera that the driver could use to monitor the passengers, but it was not working at the time.

The city also is reviewing riot gear used by police during the unrest, when some of it failed to work. Baltimore needs the right equipment in case trouble breaks out following trial verdicts in the Gray case, she said.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested on April 12 for possessing a knife and placed in the back of a police van for transport. He suffered a severe spinal injury during the ride and died a week later.

Six officers have been charged in Gray's death and their trial is set for October. About 160 police officers were hurt and businesses suffered millions of dollars in damages during rioting on the day of his funeral.

Rawlings-Blake also denied she had issued a "stand down" order during the rioting. Some officers have said the order, akin to a withdrawal, was aimed at keeping police from looking as aggressive as officers did during rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year sparked by an officer's shooting of an unarmed black man.

The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday quoted police commanders as saying they had instead told officers to "hold the line," creating a barrier between rioters and police operations and people who were potentially at risk.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Beech)