The Baltimore Police Department is investigating one of its sergeants after social media video showed him coughing near residents of Perkins Homes, a Southeast Baltimore public housing development, even as the coronavirus pandemic is sickening hundreds of thousands and killing tens of thousands in the United States.
According to WMAR-2, the department released a statement noting that it takes the coronavirus, COVID-19 seriously and had already reviewed the online footage, as well as the sergeant’s body-worn camera footage.
“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 a 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,” Commissioner Harrison said.
The video also caught the attention of local activists and officials, who slammed the officer’s actions.
“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,” Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott said in a statement. “This is not behavior that we want our police officers or any of our public servants to model to our residents.”
“It’s disgraceful…it says a lot about his character. It says ‘I don’t care about nobody’s life. Your lives do not matter’,” Baltimore activist Tawanda Jones told WMAR-2. “I pray to god that he doesn’t have it because If he did that’s a deadly game that he is playing.”
ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.