Startling numbers in federal report on Baltimore police

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2016

Some 20% of the use of force incidents BPD provided involved mental health disabilities or people in crisis.

"I guarantee you someone is going to be arrested today for a minor drug charge, somebody is going to be stopped and harassed today for no reason", he said."Somebody is going to have their rights taken today, you feel me?" His death sparked protests about racial injustice throughout Baltimore and the United States.

All six officers who faced charges in Gray's death escaped conviction. The DOJ has exposed patterns of disturbing behavior that suggest officers were not trained in the best practices of handling allegations of sexual violence and, in some cases, used their positions of power to exploit the very populations that most needed their protection.

The report went far beyond the circumstances of Gray's death to examine a slew of potentially unconstitutional practices.

Vanita Gupta said during a news conference Wednesday that these negotiations would provide a framework for a formal consent decree between the Justice Department and the police department.

Officers acting out a "us versus them" mentality were influenced by "zero tolerance" policies propagated since the early 2000s under which people were arrested en masse for minor misdemeanors such as loitering, the report found.

Six offers have been fired this year, according to Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. The directives often come from supervisors. Black motorists accounted for 82 percent of traffic stops even though they make up only 60 percent of drivers.

The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies that have persisted within BPD for many years and has exacerbated community distrust of the police, particularly in the African-American community, the federal department said.

African Americans also made up 95% of 410 individuals who were stopped at least ten times by police officers from 2010-2015, the report added.

The city is investing in technology and infrastructure to "modernize" the department, Rawlings-Blake said, including installing recording cameras inside police vans and continuing to roll out body cameras for officers. In one such case, where "the suspect's interview was nearly entirely consistent with the victim's account of the assault", the cops made no further effort to find corroboration, resulting in just a weapon-related charge for the suspect.

In addition to pat-downs, Baltimore officers perform unconstitutional public strip searches, including searches of people who aren't under arrest. Investigators also accompanied officers on ride-alongs, conducted hundreds of interviews and participated in meetings with community members, activists and others. When the officer was able to detain the man, he frisked him but found no weapon.

On Tuesday, the school district announced a plan to place 30 unarmed officers back in schools and leave 28 patrolling school campuses and surrounding communities.

It noted that officers used unreasonable force against juveniles as well, often relying on the "same aggressive tactics they use with adults".

"Change is painful. Growth is painful. I had to tell my kids they were just playing". Unfortunately, there's more: according to the report, sexual assault victims specifically were not exactly well cared for by the BPD. There are officers right now that are just as offended as we are to see the details that are laid out in this report. Why?

"The findings are challenging to hear", Rawlings-Blake said at a press conference Wednesday.

"There is no American city that I can point to as the model of success and empirically these problems exist, to some extent, in every police department in this country".

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, the city's top prosecutor, said she expected the report to "confirm what many in our city already know or have experienced firsthand".

Not only could the inconsistent data collection impact the city department's ability to supervise school police officers' citywide activity, investigators wrote, but could also "lead to a skewed view of BPD's enforcement activities".

The court-enforced order will be independently monitored and created to sustain reform regardless of who is the police commissioner or mayor, justice officials said.

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