The Justice Department Wednesday found that the Baltimore Police Department systematically violated the constitutional rights of people, noting that African Americans were targeted in disproportionate rates for searches and seizures along with arrests.
The investigation focused on BPD’s use of force, including deadly force; stops, searches and arrests; and discriminatory policing.
To read the entire report click here: DOJ Report.
The DOJ found that in Baltimore, which is 63 percent black, 91 percent of these arrested for discretionary offenses like failure to obey or trespassing were African-American. Blacks account for 82 percent of the traffic stops. Of the 410 pedestrians stopped, at least 10 times in the five and a half years, 95 percent were black.
These problems have persisted within Baltimore Police Departmentfor many years and has exacerbated community distrust of the police, particularly in the African-American community, according to officials.
The city and DOJ have agreed to work together to come up with solutions to fix the problems, officials said.
“Public trust is critical to effective policing and public safety,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Our investigation found that Baltimore is a city where the bonds of trust have been broken, and that the Baltimore Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful and unconstitutional conduct, ranging from the use of excessive force to unjustified stops, seizures and arrests. The results of our investigation raise serious concerns, and in the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to ensure that all Baltimoreans enjoy the safety, security and dignity they expect and deserve.’
Adding, “I am grateful to all of the community members, local officials, faith leaders and current and former police officers who spoke with us during the course of our inquiry, and whose input will remain critical to our efforts as we move forward.”
In May 2015, Lynch announced the comprehensive investigation.
The department found that Baltimore police engage in the following practices:
- Conducting unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests
- Focusing enforcement strategies on African Americans, creating racial disparitieis
- Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
- Interacting with mental ill people that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment.
- The department also identified serious concerns including an inadequate response to reports of sexual assault, which may result, at least in part, from underlying gender bias.
- The transportation of suspects that puts them in significant risk of harm.
These are some of the reforms proposed by DOJ and Baltimore police:
- Policies, training, data collection and analysis to assess officers conform to legal and constitutional requirements
- Technology to effectively monitor officers
- Officer support to ensure jobs are performed effectively and constitutionally
- Community policing strategies
Click here to read Baltimore Police Department Agreement: Police Agreement
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