The Baltimore Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a social media video that appears to show an officer repeatedly coughing near citizens in Southeast Baltimore, according to the department.
The department’s Public Integrity Bureau has opened up an internal investigation and reviewed the online video, according to a release from BPD, as well as the unidentified sergeant’s body-worn camera footage. The department says a complete investigation will be conducted.
“The Department takes Covid-19 very seriously and we do not condone any action by our members which may be perceived as making light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge wrote in the department’s statement.
“After watching the full video, it [sic] its entirety, it is not only disturbing, but incomprehensible, especially considering the high-level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding Covid-19,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in the statement. “Members are always expected to be sensitive and professional to the community, but what we saw in the video is alarming because this pandemic is affecting lives not only nationally, worldwide, but right here in our own police department.”
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott said he had also been made aware of the video and immediately forwarded it to Commissioner Harrison for investigation.
“Covid-19 is not a joke and this behavior is beyond unacceptable. When you are in public service, it is your duty to treat everyone with respect, especially when we are dealing with both a public health pandemic and a gun violence epidemic. This is not behavior that we want our police officers or any of our public servants to model to our residents,” the council president’s statement said.
Baltimore City NAACP branch president, Kobi Little, called the video content emblematic of the police department’s “failure to respect and build trust with the people of Baltimore,” calling for the officer to be pulled from contact with the public immediately, “and subsequently held accountable for his actions.”