It’s wild to read this as the trial of Derek Chauvin is going on.
I left Baltimore at the end of 2016. Was there for the 2015 Uprising. I know firsthand that the tension which boiled over in April of that year had never really settled.
Baltimore has the same social issues and structural inequalities as most American metropolises. It’s over-policed and under-resourced, riddled with a white supremacist power structure that is almost impossible to reform. People demand reform but also want “results” in the form of numbers. Hence the Gun Trace Task Force.
Justin Fenton is the perfect person to work on this one. An excellent crime reporter based out of The Baltimore Sun, Fenton knows the city PD better than almost any civilian. His book takes a panoramic view at both the city in the moment of the uprising and how what happened helped produce such rampant criminal behavior among its police officers.
There wasn’t much I didn’t know about the case itself that’s revealed here but Fenton goes deeper into the circumstances of how this came to be: the lack of supervision, the pressure from the brass, the need to “crack down,” etc. There’s also new information about the mysterious death of Det. Sean Suiter, who was connected to the GTTF and set to testify before a federal grand jury.
This is probably an objectively better book than Baynard Woods’ I Got a Monster, which covers much of the same territory. But I would say that Woods’ book actually provides the perfect compliment to Fenton’s as his covers the dialogue and intricacies of the GTTF, while Fenton is more concerned about the bigger picture in how it impacted Baltimore. I’d definitely recommend Fenton’s first but if the case interests you that much, get to Woods’ book too.