UPDATE: 11:00 AM EST
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday announced a Department of Justice civil pattern and practice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained fatal injuries in police custody last month.
Lynch, speaking at a late-morning news conference at the Department of Justice, said the federal probe will seek to determine whether Baltimore’s police systemically violate the Constitution and federal law.
The investigation will also look into the department’s use of force, including deadly force, and its stops, searches and arrests, as well as whether there is a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing, according to a statement sent to NewsOne.
“Our goal is to work with the community, public officials, and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” Lynch says in the statement. “The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has conducted dozens of these pattern or practice investigations, and we have 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.”
The investigation comes at a time when law enforcement departments around the country are under intense scrutiny over allegations of brutality against Blacks. Lynch hopes to use Baltimore as a framework to help other cities overhaul their police departments, encouraging other cities to see whether recommendations can be applied in their own communities.
“Ultimately, this process is meant to ensure that officers are being provided with the tools they need – including training, policy guidance and equipment—to be more effective, to partner with civilians, and to strengthen public safety,” Lynch says in the statement.
A day after Baltimore’s mayor called for a federal probe of the city’s police, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday it would investigate whether the department engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional policing, according to The New York Times.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the statement Thursday after testifying on Capitol Hill about the DOJ budget and the national crisis in policing. Lynch, who has been on the job for a week, announced the probe after visiting the embattled city earlier this week.
Her decision also follows a call by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a federal probe and after State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby last week filed criminal charges against six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died last month after being injured in police custody.
Gray’s death sparked ongoing and sometimes violent protests in Baltimore and reignited national outrage over police violence and tactics in Black communities.
From The New York Times:
“The situation in Baltimore involves a core responsibility of the Department of Justice — not only to combat illegal conduct when it occurs, but to help prevent the circumstances that give rise to it in the first place,” Ms. Lynch said on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
There was no immediate reaction from Ms. Rawlings-Blake. Earlier Thursday, the mayor convened business, religious and philanthropic leaders at the intersection of West North and Pennsylvania Avenues, near a CVS store that was looted and burned in last week’s riots, to announce a public-private partnership to improve areas devastated by the unrest. She called it a “once-in-a-generation effort to tackle inequality.”
Ms. Lynch, who took office a week after Mr. Gray died, was in Baltimore this week to meet with community, religious and political leaders about whether to conduct a “pattern or practice” review, which would look into whether police officers used excessive force, carried out street stops based on race or arrested people without probable cause.
We’ll keep you updated on the latest from Baltimore.
Watch NewsOne Now guest host Mo Ivory and the NewsOne Now Straight Talk panel discuss the DOJ investigation in Baltimore in the video clip below
SOURCE: The New York Times | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN