The Justice Department officially releases its report on the Baltimore Police Department today, but some media outlets received an advance copy yesterday. The ultimate conclusions are quite damning: there is, the Justice Department concludes, “reasonable cause to believe that the BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law.”
That pattern of conduct includes unlawful stops, excessive force, gender bias, and racial profiling. People who criticized the department routinely found themselves arrested–again, unlawfully. The department routinely and disproportionately stopped and searched black Baltimoreans, even though when they searched white people they were significantly more likely to find illegal guns or drugs. The department failed to provide officers with adequate support, the report concludes–but at the same time, there was inadequate accountability and supervision.
The report blends both horrifying statistics and shameful individual accounts, like that of the black man in his mid-50s who was stopped by police 30 times in less than four years. None of those stops resulted in an arrest–or even a citation of any kind.
In other words: It’s a damning indictment of the way the city has handled policing in recent years. Hopefully, this report will serve as a wake-up call and an impetus for change. That, at least, is how current BPD commissioner Kevin Davis is spinning it: “We have begun this journey to reform long-standing issues in many real, tangible ways,” Davis told the Sun. “DOJ’s findings will serve to solidify our road map.”
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