DOJ Releases Report, City Looks Forward

Baltimore City officials vow to move forward and institute reforms in the light of a Department of Justice Report finding significant violations by the Baltimore City Police Department.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

In a 163-page report released Wednesday, Justice Department investigators concluded that the Baltimore Police Department had a pattern or practice of violating the rights of residents, particularly in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods, in virtually all aspects of daily police work — including targeting, stopping and searching black pedestrians and motorists in disproportionate numbers, dismissing the accounts of sexual assault survivors and infringing on protesters’ rights to free speech.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, stood at City Hall on Wednesday to announce the report’s findings.

They said they had signed an “agreement in principle” outlining a consensus that deep reforms are needed and a shared desire to reach a court-enforced consent decree to implement change.

The City will have a new administration next year, but Police Commissioner Davis, who has experience working under a DOJ consent decree, has pledged his willingness to see the reforms through.  From The Baltimore Sun:

Davis, who has led Baltimore police for a year, said his experience on the Prince George’s County police force would guide his reform efforts. The Washington suburb’s Police Department was required to make changes under a 2004 consent decree that took more than four years to satisfy.

“I know it’s an opportunity to get better; it’s a compelled performance enhancement,” Davis, 47, said in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday with The Baltimore Sun.

“It’s not a suggestion. It’s a not a recommendation. It’s not a campaign platform. It’s not my philosophy or the mayor’s philosophy. It’s compelled and mandated. That’s what changes things.”

The report is a start of a series of steps for reforms. The City and DOJ will develop a consent decree which the City must follow. Negotiations on the consent decree are expected to be completed by November 1, 2016. A court-appointed independent monitor will help ensure the police department meets the goals of the decree.

Read The Baltimore Sun for ongoing coverage.

Department of Justice Report on Baltimore City Police Department