Lynch opens probe of Baltimore police
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Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday announced the Department of Justice will conduct a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, spurred by the death of Freddie Gray.

“This investigation will begin immediately and will focus on allegations that Baltimore Police Department officers used excessive force, including deadly force, conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and engage in discriminatory policing,” she said at a news conference.

“Despite the progress being made, it was clear that recent events, including the tragic in-custody death of Mr. Freddie Gray, have given rise to a serious erosion of public trust.”

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The “pattern-or-practice investigation” is the same type of review that the Department conducted in Ferguson, Mo., after the death of an 18-year-old black man during an altercation with a police officer.

The Baltimore investigation is the first major action that Lynch has taken in her new role, having been sworn in as attorney general on the same day as Gray’s funeral.

Lynch said that, if the probe finds evidence of systemic problems, the Justice Department will seek a “court-enforceable” agreement where the police department would have to agree to a reform plan.

“Rather than examining whether the police department violated good policies, we will now examine whether they violated the Constitution and the community’s civil rights,” she said.

The review will take a look at the culture and practices of the Baltimore Police Department, including accusations of excessive force and discrimination. If it finds evidence of systemic problems, the Justice Department will seek an agreement with the department for reforms.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake requested the investigation earlier this week.

Six Baltimore officers are facing charges in Gray’s death, including second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault. Gray died in police custody after suffering a fatal spinal injury.

City prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said she believes Gray suffered the injury after not being properly restrained in a police van.

Lynch said the DOJ's investigation has been “welcomed” by the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, which has criticized the severity of the charges against the Baltimore officers.

“I want to thank them for their support and their partnership as we move forwards,” she said.

She framed the investigation as part of a partnership with the community to help rebuild public trust, which she said has, "in effect, been severed" with the police department.

“Our goal is to work with the community, public officials and the like to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” she said.

“We’ve seen from our work in jurisdictions across the country that communities that have gone through this process are experiencing improved policing practices and increased trust between the police and the community.”

— This story was updated at 10:37 a.m.