Charges against Baltimore officers could have chilling effect on law enforcement nationwide

Former law enforcement officials, prosecutors and defense attorneys say the intense scrutiny being cast on the behavior of police departments nationwide — especially regarding their treatment of minorities — could lead to a temptation to stop pursuing certain crimes and suspects rather than risk accusations of misconduct.

“If it’s a not-serious street crime, they are probably going to turn and go the other way,” said Frank Rotondo, a former policeman in New York state who now lobbies for police chiefs in Georgia. “They don’t want to be accused.”

Rotondo said such a temptation might be strongest for white police officers who must decide whether to intervene in cases involving minority suspects.