Baltimore police chief: 'We are part of the problem'
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Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts on Wednesday said his department deserves some of the blame for the riots that erupted in the city last week.

“We are part of the problem,” Batts told CNN’s Evan Perez in an interview.

“The community needs to hear from us that we haven’t been part of the solution, and now we have to evolve,” Batts said. “Now we have to change.”


Baltimore police have come under scrutiny since the violent protests in the city last week over Freddie Gray, who died on April 19 after suffering a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby ruled Gray’s death a homicide on Friday and brought charges against six officers.

Batts said Mosby’s announcement caught his department off guard.

“She didn’t want to seem connected to the police organization, so the communication was limited as compared to what I’m used to,” he said.

The police commissioner said the charges were the first step toward healing Baltimore’s racial wounds. Going forward, he said, the police department needs to develop a better relationship with minorities in the city.

“It’s not going to be an overnight thing,” Batts said.

“It’s going to be a long journey,” he said. “You can see the distrust that’s out there, and we have to find inroads to sit down with people — to show care, to show empathy.”

New Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore on Tuesday in an attempt to smooth the tensions between law enforcement officials and community members.

“This is a flashpoint situation,” Lynch said of Gray’s death. “We lost a young man’s life, and it begins to represent so many things.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) on Wednesday said she has asked the Justice Department to investigate the city’s police department, citing what she called a “fractured relationship” between law enforcement and the community.

The Justice Department hasn't committed to an investigation but said Lynch is “actively considering” the request.

Gray, 25, was originally arrested on April 12 for running from police without provocation.