Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who asked the Justice Department to conduct the probe in the wake of the rioting following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, said Wednesday the report is an important step on the path to reforming BPD, the Baltimore Police Department.
"The results of our investigation raise serious concerns, and in the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to ensure that all Baltimoreans enjoy the safety, security and dignity they expect and deserve".
Those findings proved to be incendiary: The Justice Department's report accuses the Baltimore Police Department of routinely violating the constitutional rights of residents by subjecting them to unlawful stops and excessive force.
The department recognizes community policing as an effective strategy to improve its relationship with the public, but it is not being carried out fully, the report says.
Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who heads the DOJ civil rights division, made it clear during a press conference Wednesday that the federal investigation did not look into the specific circumstance of the Gray case. In detailing its findings, the report depicted a bleak picture for local African-American communities which had always been complaining about excessive use of forces and racial profiling by local police force. But the Rev. Cortly "C.D".
Ralikh Hayes, a coordinator with the activist group Baltimore Bloc, said the incidents cited in the DOJ report jibe with his group's experience.
The Justice Department is now enforcing consent decrees in 14 cities-including Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; and Newark, New Jersey-where it found constitutional violations by police. Gray fell into a coma while in police custody, and he died while being transported by them.
"We're going in the right direction, but it's going to be a while for the community to trust the police", Hill-Aston said.
"It's undoubtedly a tough moment, but a moment we will be able to reflect upon in the future and know that this was a turning point for better policing, not just in Baltimore, but in our United States", he said.
The city has entered into an agreement in principle with the U.S. government to negotiate a consent decree to create reforms, which will be monitored by the U.S. District Court in Maryland. The mayor said it could cost the city anywhere from $5 million to $10 million annually to make the suggested changes, which include improved training programs and new technology and equipment to modernize the police force.
"Change is painful, growth is painful", he said, "but nothing is as painful as being stuck in a place that we don't belong".
Six officers were charged in Gray's death. The problems are systemic - supervisors, policies, weak investigations and officer culture all play a role, the DOJ found. The Department of Justice report found that Baltimore's African-Americans were discriminated against by the police department, who stopped African-Americans far more often than their population proportion would deem reasonable. The Justice Department can sue agencies that refuse to make the changes. 410 people were stopped at least 10 times since 2010, and 95 percent of them were African-American.
In what many are calling a scathing review of BPD practices, instances of systematically reinforced biases and outright bigotry have been documented during the year-long probe conducted by the DOJ.
30 - Number of times one black man was stopped in less than four years. "They just harass people".
But according to the findings, longstanding complaints about the BPD's inherently biased Zero Tolerance policing - which is not dissimilar to New York's broken-windows model - went without department response.
City police Commissioner Kevin Davis said that he has already fired some officers as a result of the Justice Department's investigation.