Baltimore Police Struggle to Redefine Image Amid Scrutiny and Violence

Officer Dwyone Jones grinned broadly as he approached a young boy on a porch holding a colorful water gun.

“Getting ready for summertime, huh?” the rookie officer asked, drawing a quick, shy smile from the boy.

One year to the day since the death of Freddie Gray, it was the sort of interaction — a friendly cop on patrol engaging a local kid — that police commanders see as critical to bridging the divide between police and the community that was exposed by the rioting, looting and arson following Gray’s death.

A week later, on the anniversary of the worst of the unrest, two plainclothes detectives spotted another boy, this one with a BB gun, across town in East Baltimore. Thinking it was a real handgun, they gave chase, and one of the officers shot the boy, wounding him in his leg and shoulder.