The Department of Justice has released the findings of its 15-month investigation of the Baltimore Police Department and the results are damning, if not surprising. According to the report, Baltimore’s cops showed bias by targeting African-Americans for unconstitutional stops, excessive force and bogus arrests.
The investigation was spawned by Freddie Gray, whose death while in police custody was ruled a homicide. However, all the cops charged with his murder skated.
Reports the Associated Press:
The Justice Department looked at hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including internal affairs files and data on stops, searches and arrests.
It found that one African-American man was stopped 30 times in less than four years and never charged. Of 410 people stopped at least 10 times from 2010 to 2015, 95 percent were black. During that time, no one of any other race was stopped more than 12 times.
With the release of the report, the city agreed to negotiate with the Justice Department a set of police reforms over the next few months to fend off a government lawsuit. The reforms will be enforceable by the courts.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis acknowledged the longstanding problems and said they had started improvements even before the report was completed. They promised it will serve as a blueprint for sweeping changes.
“Fighting crime and having a better, more respectful relationship with the community are not mutually exclusive endeavors. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We’re choosing both. It’s 2016,” said Davis, who was appointed after the riots in April 2015.
Six officers, three white and three black, were charged in Gray’s arrest and death. The case collapsed without a single conviction, though it did expose a lack of training within the department.
The DOJ’s report was 164-pages long, single spaced. The stats presented clearly show that Baltimore PD had a thing for stopping Black people, even if no crime was committed.
Reports the New York Times:
In Baltimore, a city that is 63 percent black, the Justice Department found that 91 percent of those arrested for discretionary offenses like “failure to obey” or “trespassing” were African-American. Blacks make up 60 percent of Baltimore’s drivers, but they account for 82 percent of traffic stops. Of the 410 pedestrians who were stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed, 95 percent were black.
During today’s press conference, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said steps have already been taken to improve the relations between the police and Black citizens and to correct the problems in the department.
Seeing is believing.
Photo: screen cap