- The Justice Department announced today that it found reasonable cause to believe that the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws. BPD makes stops, searches and arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests; uses excessive force; and retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies that have persisted within BPD for many years and has exacerbated community distrust of the police, particularly in the African-American community.
- The Justice Department issued a 163-page report detailing its findings.
- The city and the Justice Department have also entered into an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation. Both parties agreed that compliance with the consent decree will be reviewed by an independent monitor. The agreement in principle provides a framework for change, but the department will be doing community outreach to solicit input in developing comprehensive reforms. Comments may be provided by email at Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov.
- In a press release, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said: “Public trust is critical to effective policing and public safety. 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. 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. Additionally, I commend the city and BPD for its proactive and collaborative approach to our inquiry and for demonstrating a strong commitment to restoring public confidence by already taking steps to make needed changes. I look forward to continuing our work together to implement urgent and necessary reforms.”
- In a press conference announcing the findings, head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta said, “The problems in Baltimore didn’t happen overnight or appear in a day. The pattern or practice we found results from long-standing, systemic deficiencies at BPD,” and added that “because of the proactive leadership in this city; because of the energy and vibrancy of this community and because of this police department’s desire for reform – together, we can … build a stronger Baltimore: a Baltimore that protects the rights, safety and dignity of all – residents and officers alike.”
Updated December 28, 2016