Grand jury is asked to explore public's perception of police

Potential jurors' views motivated city judge

January 30, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has asked a grand jury to examine the public's perception of police officers and suggest how to fix any problems.

Judge Audrey J. S. Carrion acted because she was "amazed" at potential jurors' comments about police during jury selection.

"There are two diametrically opposed views of the Police Department: either totally trustful or totally distrustful," said Carrion.

She gave the grand jury the assignment Jan. 8.

Carrion noted that people's perceptions of law officers often depend on their race.

In a recent survey, she said, 57 percent of white Americans expressed confidence in the police, but only 38 percent of minorities said they trusted the police, because of brutality, perjury and racial profiling issues.

If the grand jurors conclude problems exist with the public's view of the Police Department, Carrion wants them to propose ways to mend the situation.

The issue burst into public view late this month, in the acquittals of murder suspects in two cases where police were key witnesses.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris and State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy have voiced concerns about the issue, which some say dates back decades.

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