A former federal prosecutor who represented one of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers has been picked to lead an independent review of a corruption-plagued unit of the Baltimore Police Department, the department’s chief announced Wednesday.
Michael Bromwich will have “full autonomy” to conduct the review of the department’s Gun Trace Task Force “without interference from us,” said Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. The city on Wednesday asked a federal judge to approve its plans for the independent review.
Bromwich was the Justice Department’s inspector general from 1994 to 1999 and served as the nation’s top offshore drilling regulator after BP’s deadly Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. He was an attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied the accusation.
Eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force have been convicted of corruption charges and sentenced to prison. The plainclothes squad resold stolen drugs, conducted robberies and falsified evidence, prosecutors said.
Bromwich said Baltimore officials know he won’t be bringing them “happy or consoling news” when he delivers a report on his findings. Bromwich said his team of investigators, most likely a mix of attorneys from his law enforcement consulting firm and outside experts, “will go where the facts lead us.”
“We will examine the questions of not only what happened but why and how,” he said at a news conference.
Harrison said it is “vitally important” to understand how the Gun Trace Task Force’s corruption persisted for years.
“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it,” he said. “We must, and we will, learn everything we can about the terrible chapter in the BPD’s history and to ensure that it never happens again.”
Last month, Harrison told a state commission that his department hadn’t done a “deep dive” internally into the root causes of the scandal. But the chief said the matter recently came up during a hearing before U.S. District Judge James Bredar, who is overseeing a federal oversight program requiring sweeping police reforms in Baltimore.
In a court filing later Wednesday, the city asked the judge to approve its plan for a “comprehensive, independent, transparent investigation” of the task force members’ misconduct.
“We can burn off the stink of this horrific scandal only through the use of the disinfectant of full disclosure,” Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis said.
Bromwich said his team won’t be bound by any time constraints.
“This is an enormous job, and it will take awhile,” he said.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young said an independent investigation is “essential” to help rebuild trust between the police department and the public.
“It is imperative that the investigation be comprehensive and free from internal pressure,” he said in a statement.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
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