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Victims of corrupt Baltimore police force speak out

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Out of the eight former Baltimore police officers brought up on racketeering charges, six have pleaded guilty and two are now on trial at federal court. Our affiliate WBFF reports.

The officers' victims, meanwhile, are trying to rebuild their lives.

Many people the officers targeted are still in jail.

Defense attorney Ivan Bates addressed the active court cases involving a corrupt group of city police officers.

"These criminals who hid behind a badge, they preyed on the African-American community, and they didn't care if you had a job or wore a tie as long as they thought you had money," said Bates, who is challenging Marilyn Mosby for the city State's Attorney position.

Two residents, Jamal and Evonne Walker, describe how they became targets.

Nearly $20,000 of their money disappeared and it's still unaccounted for.

"They were cowboys, were gonna do whatever we want to do," said Jamal Walker.

For several months, Bates and other defense attorneys have accused the State's Attorney's office of knowing what was happening.

Baltimore City's newly appointed Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa has told members of the General Assembly he plans to announce major changes in his department.

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Appearing with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh before Baltimore City legislators in Annapolis Friday, De Sousa said

"My goal is put put more officers on the streets. I'm going to decentralize almost immediately some detectives that typically work in headquarters, so they're going to go back to their actually districts themselves."

De Sousa says his focus is to target repeat violent offenders without violating the rights of innocent citizens.

"We don't want to zone in on a community, we want to zone in on a person," said De Sousa.

Several Baltimore City legislators expressed support for the incoming commissioner who must still be confirmed by the City Council.

But some lawmakers voiced concern about new revelations from the federal corruption trial of officers from the department's disbanded Gun Trace Task Force.

Delegate Brooke Lierman calls the testimony in the ongoing case "appalling."

De Sousa said he recently met with FBI officials and is soliciting assistance to revamp the department.

He says "Different pieces of that reorganization is going to specifically address corruption and it's going to specifically address overtime within the police department."

Mayor Pugh told legislators "I am determined that in 2018 Baltimore City will not be defined by violence."

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Reacting to the ongoing trial, the Mayor said "We don't want police officers who go away from their duties in terms of policing our city and our community to engage in activity that is not befitting of a police officer."

Mayor Pugh says De Sousa's 30 years of experience in the Baltimore Police Department will prove valuable in making reforms.

"He is not someone who's not new to policing in Baltimore, he's initiated a number of initiatives already we believe are working in the city.

"One of our main goals is to restore trust and faith by the community in our police department and we're working every day to do that," said the mayor.

She says she is confident that the city council will vote to confirm De Sousa as police commissioner in the near future.

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