The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has started Friday a “pattern or practice” investigation into the Baltimore Police Department following the death of a young black man from injuries sustained while in police custody.
The investigation was requested by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday following the new Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s visit to Baltimore.
A “pattern or practice” investigation seeks to determine whether a police force has engaged in systemic or persistent patterns of misconduct, and does not focus on individual cases.
Police officers in Baltimore face allegations that they “use excessive force including deadly force, conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and engage in discriminatory policing.”
“Rather than examining whether the police department violated good policies, we will examine if they violated the Constitution and the community civil rights,” Lynch said.
Rawlings-Blake said in a statement Friday that Baltimore “is making progress in repairing the fractured relationship between police and community, but bolder reforms are needed and we will not shy away from taking on these challenges.”
The police union Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police said in a public statement that they “welcome the involvement of the Department of Justice and look forward to working with their representatives to heal the wounds of the city, and to improve the relationship between the community and our Department.”
However, the same statement asks the DOJ to “consider expanding the scope of their review to include the practices and policies of the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake,” going on to say “we believe that her leadership of, and involvement in, the Police Department also deserves evaluation,” indicating there is no love lost between the mayor and the police department.