Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has requested a federal civil rights examination of the inner workings of the city’s police department. Her demand comes less than one month after 25-year-old Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. As protests against police brutality continue, Rawlings-Blake says that she’s determined to bring a sense of trust back to her city.
“We all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community,” she told the Baltimore Sun yesterday. “I’m willing to do what it takes to reform my department.”
If the DOJ accepts her request, federal investigators would conduct an 18- to 24-month probe examining the use of excessive force, instances of discrimination, false arrests and unjust searches and arrests. Similar to the DOJ’s civil rights investigation into the city of Ferguson, if the department were to find any instances of wrongdoings, it would issue a list of recommendations, legally require the department to reform its practices and place the city under court supervision for years to come. The DOJ is also conducting a criminal investigation into the case.
Baltimore city officials support Rawlings-Blake’s request.
“The systemic mistreatment of members of the African-American community by some officers within the Baltimore Police Department helped contribute to a strained relationship between the police and the citizens who depend on them for protection and service,” council members wrote in a letter of support. “The City of Baltimore is in desperate need of a binding federal review of the police department in order to repair this fractured relationship.”
The DOJ has received the request, and a spokesperson told the Sun that attorney general Loretta Lynch is “actively considering” it.