Justice Department To Investigate Baltimore Police For Civil Rights Violations
Today, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice will be launching an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.
The announcement comes just two days after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake requested the DOJ’s presence in Baltimore following the passing of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spine injury last month while in police custody.
“Today, the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into whether the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law,” Lynch announced. “This investigation will begin immediately, and will focus on allegations that Baltimore Police Department officers use excessive force, including deadly force; conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests; and engage in discriminatory policing.”
“Some may ask how this differs from our current work with the Baltimore Police Department. The answer is: rather than examining whether the police department violated good policies, we will now examine whether they violated the Constitution and the community’s civil rights.”
“We will examine policies, practices, and available data. And at the conclusion of our investigation, we will issue a report of our findings. If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues. We will also continue to move forward to improve policing in Baltimore even as the pattern or practice investigation is underway.”
According to Lynch, the probe has been “welcomed” by Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police. She concludes:
“I have no illusions that reform will be easy; the challenges we face did not arise in a day, and change will not come overnight. It will take time and sustained effort. But the people I met in Baltimore – from protestors to public officials to an officer who had been injured amidst the violence – all said the same thing: “I love my city, and I want to make it better.” That’s why I’m so optimistic about this process. That’s why I’m so hopeful about the days to come. And that’s why I am confident that, as a result of this investigation and the hard work still ahead, all members of the Baltimore community – residents and law enforcement alike – will be able to create a stronger, safer, more united city together.”
You can check out her full announcement here.