Baltimore DOJ Report Is Released; Reads As Expected

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promises reform after the Baltimore DOJ report was released.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promises reform after the Baltimore DOJ report was released.

Baltimore DOJ Report Is Released; Reads As Expected.

Make no mistake, Baltimore is a city with a lot of issues. The DOJ went in with an agenda, focused on irrelevant circumstances, and failed to notice relevant issues.

WASHINGTON (Reuters, reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Will Dunham) – Baltimore officials on Wednesday pledged to carry out sweeping police department reforms after a scathing U.S. Justice Department report found that officers in the majority-black city routinely violated the civil rights of black residents.

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said Baltimore and federal officials have agreed on a legal framework for police department changes that would be overseen by an independent monitor.

The report on the 2,600-officer department released on Tuesday found that black residents were regularly subjected to stops as pedestrians and motorists, arrests, strip searches and excessive force in violation of U.S. constitutional rights and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The 163-page report was prompted by the April 2015 death of a black man, Freddie Gray, from a neck injury suffered in police custody.

Gray’s death was one of a series of incidents in various cities in the past two years that have raised questions about racial discrimination in U.S. law enforcement.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is black, told a city hall news conference that Baltimore would implement a reform plan in the next few months.

“It’s not going to be easy to reform the department, and it’s not going to be quick,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Rawlings-Blake said the police department had already revised 26 procedures, including changes in policies, training, a body-camera program and use-of-force guidelines.

Gupta said she expected quick progress toward a final agreement with the city on police reforms. Rawlings-Blake said Baltimore expected to spend between $5 million and $10 million a year to implement the agreement.

The framework agreement called for improved training of officers and data collection to ensure they are adhering to legal and constitutional standards. It also highlighted technology to allow better monitoring of officers, and strategies to rebuild relationships with city residents.

The report found that police stopped black residents three times as often as white residents. Sixty-three percent of Baltimore residents are black, but the report found blacks faced 86 percent of charges by police. Black motorists accounted for 82 percent of traffic stops even though they make up only 60 percent of drivers.