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Community speaks out, DOJ listens, residents worry if BPD police issues will get better

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Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 06:38:55-04
It's an issue we continue to hear a lot about.  The issues many have concerning the Baltimore Police Department.
 
A scathing Department of Justice report released just weeks ago outlines those issues.  
 
The city and DOJ are negotiating a consent decree that outlines strategies to address the civil rights violations in the report  
 
The community's input was part of that consent decree process and there was no shortage of opinions Wednesday.
 
Congressman Elijah Cummings helped to organize the meeting and he, like everyone else wants sustainable reform.
 
"I think that it's important that we exercise our constitutional right to speak our mind when it comes to things effecting Baltimoreans," resident Anthony White told ABC2.

"If the DOJ is really here to help us, they're not going to listen to the peep, they're going to take direction from the people," said another city resident.

Hundreds of people gathered to share their thoughts on the state of the Baltimore Police Department.

"If you're not involved in the process then your issues will not be heard." said White.

That's why the NAACP, the ACLU and local leaders, like Congressman Elijah Cummings, organized the event.

"It's the soul of the department that needs surgery," he said.

Cummings went on to say that nothing will change without the community's continued input.

"It is impossible to solve crimes without the cooperation of the public. The police needs the community but guess what, the community also needs the police."

But beyond that, a complete overhaul is needed.

"Change policies, systems, culture and practices of our police department," said Cummings.

Those from the DOJ say no city should have to deal with what Baltimore has seen over the years.

"I cant imagine what my relationship with my police department would be like if I were stopped 30 times but I know that for man of you that might be your experience every day," a DOJ representative told the crowd.

And even the youth of the city weighed in on a problem they don't future generations to deal with.

"We need to focus on attacking the root cause of this not just symptoms of the problem," said one high school student.  "So like a symptom would be like prosecuting officers when the root cause of the problem could be training and we can stop this before it escalates."

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