DOJ finds Baltimore police were unconstitutional
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A Justice Department official accused the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) of unconstitutional and discriminatory practices on Wednesday, following a yearlong investigation into the department.

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“We conclude that there is reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination law,” Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in a press conference.

Gupta said the BPD routinely made unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests; used “enforcement strategies” that disproportionately targeted blacks; used excessive force and retaliated against people who criticized police officers.

The report found that the policing strategies also proved ineffective. Of the 300,000 pedestrian stops that police conducted over a five-year period, according to the report, only 3.7 percent resulted in officers making an arrest or issuing a citation.

Gupta noted that one black resident had been stopped 30 times in less than four years. None of those encounters led to an arrest or citation.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), whose district includes sections of Baltimore, called the findings troubling and called on the BPD to reform its practices.

“It troubles me to read how frequently the Baltimore City Police Department has engaged in various disturbing patterns or practices, including excessive use of force and unjustified and severe disparities in the rates of stops, searches, and arrests of African Americans,” Cummings said in a statement. “The statistics are simply astounding, and the unconstitutional violations of our citizens’ rights are unacceptable.”

The investigation was launched after the death of Freddie Gray set off riots in the city that drew national attention. Gray, a black man, died after suffering spinal cord injuries in a police van after being arrested. The Justice probe did not address Gray's death specifically.

All six officers who were charged in Gray's death were either acquitted or had the charges dropped.

At the press conference Tuesday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis both pledged their commitment to reforming the city’s law enforcement.

Davis said that officers have already been fired as a result of incidents discovered in the report.

“There are officers right now that are just as offended as we are to see the details that are laid out in this report,” said Davis. “Why? Because they wear this uniform proudly and they serve the citizens of Baltimore honorably each and every day. 

“We know that our citizens are outraged at some of the details included in this report. And they should be."

DOJ report by kballuck1 on Scribd