Baltimore police routinely violated civil rights, Justice Dept. says

Police stand by in Baltimore during demonstrations May 1, 2015, over the death of Freddie Gray. A Department of Justice report said there is pervasive racism in Baltimore police procedures and unnecessary adversarial intreractions with the community. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

BALTIMORE, Aug. 10 (UPI) — The Baltimore Police Department routinely violated the civil rights of African-American residents, a Department of Justice report says.

The 164-page report, to be formally released Wednesday, identifies systemic problems and gives examples of police treatment of African-Americans, who make up the majority of the city’s population.

In at times critical language, it notes African-Americans were more likely to be stopped and searched for illegal guns and drugs, that police have blatantly discriminatory arrest practices and that officers are encouraged to have “unnecessary, adversarial interactions” with members of the community.

The report examined Baltimore police data for the past five and a half years and is part of the Obama administration’s concentration on police reform in cities where young African-American males have died while interacting with law enforcement. It comes after Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, 25, died while in the custody of Baltimore police in 2014.

It includes anecdotal examples of African-American drivers stopped by police in numbers disproportionate to the demographics of the city, including the example of an African-American driver in his mid-50s who was stopped by police 30 times in less than four years, with none of the stops leading to a citation or criminal charge.

Although 63 percent of Baltimore’s population, African-Americans accounted for 95 percent of those stopped at least 10 times in the time period under review.

It adds that a computer template was provided to officers writing up trespassing reports; a single computer keystroke enters the term “a black male” into arrest reports, noting “The supervisor’s template thus presumes that individuals arrested for trespassing will be African-American.”

Kevin Davis, Baltimore police commissioner, said Tuesday he regards the Department of Justice report as a means of improving the police force.

“We have begun this journey to reform long-standing issues in many real, tangible ways. DOJ’s findings will serve to solidify our road map,” Davis said.


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