DOJ Launches Investigation of Baltimore Police

Written by SK Ashby

Following a series of requests from local officials for an official investigation, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has announced that the Department of Justice will conduct a Pattern or Practice investigation.

Today, the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into whether the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law. This investigation will begin immediately, and will focus on allegations that Baltimore Police Department officers use excessive force, including deadly force; conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests; and engage in discriminatory policing. [...]

We will examine policies, practices and available data. And at the conclusion of our investigation, we will issue a report of our findings. If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues.

As I've said before, I expect the investigation will uncover many abuses and violations and some will likely be egregious.

Just as recent investigations of police departments in Cleveland and Ferguson have displayed, I expect you would uncover similar patterns of abuse in virtually every police department.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice can't investigate all of them but it can foster an environment where investigations are no longer necessary. It's up to local officials and community leaders to change the culture of their departments. Stop turning a blind eye and hoping it will go away on its own. Be proactive rather than reactive. Don't wait until public trust is already completely shattered to act.

In some ways, asking the Department of Justice to force your local police department to change is a last resort for failed leadership. And depending on who you ask, that may be the case in Baltimore.