Justice Department: Baltimore PD Regularly Violated Constitutional Rights
The U.S. Department of Justice released on Tuesday a scathing review of the Baltimore Police Department after the conclusion of a year-long investigation following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. The 164-page document finds that BPD was routinely violating citizen’s constitutional rights and describes the relationship between the community and the police as “broken.”
"After engaging in a thorough investigation, initiated at the request of the City of Baltimore and BPD the Department of Justice concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law," the document reads.
The report said the police department makes unconstitutional searches and arrests, implements excessive force, uses “enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans,” and retaliates against people practicing freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution.
The report concludes that the relationship between the police department and Baltimore's residents is "broken” and that people in impoverished, minority communities often felt "belittled, disbelieved and disrespected" by police officers. Investigators discovered an "us versus them" mentality in the department, and when they approached one supervisor about community-oriented policing, were told, "I don't pander to the public."
"Indeed, our review of documents and our conversations with residents confirm that distrust is causing individuals to be reluctant to cooperate with police," the document reads.
The study comes as the first step in a court-enforcement agreement that requires Baltimore to institute reforms and hold itself accountable.
"BPD's failings result from deficient policies, training, oversight and accountability, and policing strategies that do not engage effectively with the community the department services," the study reads. "We are heartened to find both widespread recognition of these challenges and strong interest in reform."
Investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department by U.S. Justice Department by Ethan McLeod on Scribd