Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake suspects that the Baltimore Police Department is guilty of civil rights violations. However, because the very department that would usually investigate such matters is the group in need of investigation, Rawlings-Blake has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to step in to investigate mistreatment of African Americans by the Baltimore police. This decision was reportedly determined after the announcement by state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and brought charges against the six officers involved. Mayor Rawlings-Blake joins Mosby in the fight for police reform in the city.
The review Baltimore is requesting from U.S. DOJ is of practices such as frisks, arrests, street stops of suspects and searches to ensure that they do not violate the U.S. Constitution, the Mayor announced on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The details of the recent high-profile Freddie Gray incident proved that such practices were in fact criminal.
In a press conference, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby revealed that officers not only arrested Gray under false pretenses, they also treated him poorly and refused him medical care when asked. In her announcement, Mosby informed the press and others in attendance that because of their failure to secure the suspect in the vehicle and to see to his medical needs, they were to be tried for negligence. A few of the six officers are also to be tried for manslaughter.
In addition to the investigation that Mayor Stephanie is pushing DOJ to pursue, she also has her own police reform plans underway. Baltimore city police are expected to have body cameras for all 3,200 associates by the end of the year. She is joined by new Attorney General Loretta Lynch who is taking the matter into consideration. Mayor Rawlings-Blakes call for help is not the first, the city of Baltimore has reportedly asked the U.S. Department of Justice for years to enforce new practices in the Baltimore Police Department. Just last Tuesday, Baltimore City Council President Benard C. Young sent a letter to the Attorney General expressing his grave concern for African American citizens in the city of Baltimore.
“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. The City of Baltimore is in desperate need of a binding federal review of the police department in order to repair this fractured relationship.”
Now that city officials have laid the groundwork for reform in Baltimore, Mayor Rawlings-Blake now states that actions regarding the police must be swift.
“We cannot be timid in addressing this problem and I am a Mayor that does not shy away from our city’s big challenges.”
Attorney General Lynch visited Baltimore on Tuesday and plans to reform to the police department are officially in action.