All But One Member of Baltimore Gun Task Force Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges

Baltimore Police Det. John Clewell worked nearly two years on the department’s gun trace task force — an elite unit that raided homes throughout the city searching for firearms in an effort to quell historic rates of violence.

We’re “the ‘make stuff happen’ police,” Clewell told a Northeast Baltimore couple whose apartment he raided in April 2015, according to his own account of the incident in charging documents.

Now Clewell is the only member of the task force who has not been indicted on federal racketeering charges.

The rest of the unit has been accused of robbing suspects, filing false paperwork and committing overtime fraud. Seven members were indicted by a federal grand jury in March; an eighth was indicted in August.

Clewell, a 32-year-old former Marine who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2009, has been suspended, with pay, while the unit remains under investigation.

Clewell’s attorney says his client did not participate in the unit’s alleged schemes. Attorney Chaz Ball says Clewell is a witness, not a suspect, in the federal investigation.

“He’s sort of a Boy Scout among them, frankly,” Ball said. “He was in that unit for a good amount of time, and he’s somebody who just wasn’t involved in any of the negative things that happened there.”

Police commanders created the gun trace task force a decade ago to zero in on gun offenders. Current police Commissioner Kevin Davis has called that approach a key element of his plan to reduce the years-long surge in homicides in the city.

Now eight members are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from suspects from 2014 through late 2016. Some are also accused of conspiring to defraud the department of thousands of dollars in unearned overtime.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 2711 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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