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Grand Jury Accuses Police, Prosecutors of Shielding Prominent Local Figures


April 1993

A grand jury accused Baltimore police and prosecutors of favoritism in blocking drug investigations of locally prominent politicians and professionals (Paul Valentine, "Police Actions In Drug Cases Challenged: Big Shots Were Shielded, Baltimore Grand Jury Says," Washington Post, 3/10/93, B1).

The Baltimore Circuit Court grand jury denounced operations of police and prosecutors, noting that the vast majority of cases focus on black, street-level drug dealers. The grand jury report termed the operations "a true travesty of justice."

Baltimore police commissioner Edward Woods, State's Attorney Stuart Simms, and Mayor Kurt Schmoke, a former prosecutor, strongly denounced the report. Schmoke said the conclusions of the report were based on misinformation, such as the assumption that cases not pursued by local law enforcement were dropped, rather than referred to federal court for prosecution.

The grand jury charged that high-level Baltimore drug dealers who are doctors, lawyers, elected officials and prominent businessmen have been left alone, while minor street dealers are routinely arrested and prosecuted. Records show that from November 1990 to August 1991, 61 percent of all Baltimore felony court cases were drug cases and that 11 involved minor street dealers.

Denying that favoritism played a role, State's Attorney Simms commented that "the people in the community don't care about [Colombian drug lord] Pablo Escobar. They just want the local dealer off the street corner.''