Readout of Justice Department Officials' Visit in Baltimore
The Department of Justice released the following readout of meetings attended by senior department officials to address the ongoing situation in Baltimore:
At the direction of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the head of the Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, the director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office, Ron Davis, and the head of the Community Relations Services (CRS) office, Grande Lum, participated in several meetings today with city leadership, law enforcement, faith leaders, young people and members of the community to discuss the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. Department officials reiterated their offer to the city to provide federal resources, such as technical assistance to the Baltimore Police Department. Department officials also reaffirmed their commitment to expeditiously and thoroughly carryout the ongoing, independent civil rights investigation into the death of Mr. Gray.
The COPS office assured law enforcement and the community members that the Collaborative Reform Review into the Baltimore Police Department will continue and that the department plans to announce their initial report in the coming weeks. COPS encouraged faith leaders and members of the community who attended the meetings to participate in the Collaborative Reform Initiative and share their stories and provide information that may be useful to the team leading the review. Department officials heard from residents about concerns regarding the Baltimore Police Department and the lack of trust that they feel exists between the police and community.
CRS shared that their conciliators have been on the ground in Baltimore since Thursday and will continue to bring in staff as necessary to help open lines of communication within the community and between the community and local officials.
The department officials thanked community members that have been engaged in constructive discussions, discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful demonstrations. The department officials met with the officer who is still hospitalized after being injured during the violence on Monday afternoon and reiterated that officer safety must remain a priority. Department officials also met with the family of Mr. Gray and expressed their condolences on behalf of the department.
The department officials provided continuous updates throughout the day to Attorney General Lynch and her closest advisors.