DOJ releases report on Baltimore Police

Posted at 10:18 AM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 18:31:25-04

Baltimore's police commissioner says biased law enforcement tactics won't be tolerated, adding that the department has already fired some officers who committed some of the most egregious violations found during a Justice Department investigation.

The 164-page report criticizes city police, saying officers unconstitutionally discriminate against African Americans, use excessive force and aren’t equipped with the tools needed to effectively police.

RELATED: Investigation finds BPD used discriminatory practices, made unconstitutional arrests

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Commissioner Kevin Davis and Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta discussed the report at a press conference at City Hall Wednesday morning.

Gupta said the report was commissioned a month after Freddie Gray’s death in 2015.

During the investigation, officials talked to Baltimore residents and reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of data to determine that the department engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional enforcement, of which the city’s African American communities “bore the brunt.”

These racially-biased practices have eroded trust and compromised effective policing, Gupta saidWhile the Justice Department recognized the hard work and challenges faced by officers on a daily basis, Gupta said the police department's practices need improved training, technology and staffing.

The mayor said the findings offered a foundation for reform, and efforts have already been implemented, including the use of body and van cameras, and the revision of 26 policies on force, accountability and transparency.

“Change will not happen overnight,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Rawlings-Blake said implementing reforms could cost between $5 and $10 million a year for at least five years.

Commissioner Kevin Davis stressed that the report isn't an indictment on all city police officers, just the bad behavior of a small few. 

"We are serious about making changes. Change takes time, commitment and trust," he said.

Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott said he was not surprised by the report.

"Athough I wish we could have dealt with these issues which have existed as long as I can remember ourselves, we now have a roadmap to reform. Last year, when all of Baltimore’s elected officials agreed that an investigation was needed; we knew that this would be the outcome," Scott said in a statement. 

Sen. Ben Cardin said he is hopeful Gray's death will "provide the catalyst for‎ an overhaul of BPD that rebuilds the trust between the police and the communities they serve."

"We owe the citizens of Baltimore who were denied justice and equal treatment under the law‎ the opportunity to make BPD a model police force for the nation," Cardin said in a statement. "We must ensure that BPD officers have the best possible training, equipment, and resources to carry out their sworn duties in a lawful manner that builds trust with communities they serve, and that officers are quickly held accountable for misconduct."  

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, said the report validates "what so many residents in Baltimore City already know to be true – that the trust between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve has been repeatedly violated and is in desperate need of repair."

"It also underscores just how much damage we must undo, and how much work is ahead of us," Cummings said in a statement. 

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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