A Justice Department report blasting the Baltimore Police Department for a pattern of unconstitutional behavior should help expedite a lengthy, costly and painful reform effort, city and federal officials said Wednesday.
Reforms are already underway, and officers who committed the most egregious behavior have been fired, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.
The report claims officers routinely conducted unlawful stops and used excessive force often targeting black residents in low-income, African-American neighborhoods. Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the division and Baltimore police are negotiating a consent decree on proposed reforms.
“Policing that violates the Constitution or federal law severely undermines community trust, and blanket assumptions about certain neighborhoods can lead to resentment against police,” she said.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the report will help provide a “road map” for changes already underway in the department.
“The findings are challenging to hear,” she said. “But let me be clear: I never sugarcoat our problems nor will I run away from our most pressing challenges.”
She said 26 policies are being revised, and officer training is being improved. She said she expects the changes could cost the city between $5 million and $10 million.
“The city has taken first steps in a long path to reform,” she said. “We have a very long journey ahead of us.”
Davis said some officers whose behavior was outlined in the report have been fired. His department is committed to reform, he said.
“I am very very concerned by some of the information contained in this report,” he said. “Without a doubt, we will become a model for the rest of the nation.”
Click here to read more.