BALTIMORE (WJZ)–The Department of Justice is set to release a highly critical report on Wednesday morning after a more than year-long investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department.
Unlawful police stops, excessive force, discriminatory policing and retaliation against people who exercise free speech are just some of the issues cited in an explosive federal investigation
WJZ has obtained the 164-page Justice Department report that finds the “BPD engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitution or federal law”.
The DOJ report also found that some Baltimore officers asked for sex in exchanged for not arresting women.
“Moreover, we found evidence that some BPD officers engage in criminal behavior that BPD does not sufficiently address. We heard complaints from the community that some officers target members of a vulnerable population—people involved in the sex trade—to coerce sexual favors from them in exchange for avoiding arrest, or for cash or narcotics. This conduct is not only criminal, it is an abuse of power. Unfortunately, we not only found evidence of this conduct in BPD’s internal affairs files, it appeared that the Department failed to adequately investigate allegations of such conduct, allowing it to recur.”
“This isn’t just about isolated incidents or a few bad apples it’s about a culture of policing that it is not in favor of civil rights,” said legal analyst Adam Ruther.
The mayor called for a federal investigation after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray sparked riots in the city.
NAACP president Tessa Hill-Aston worked with the federal investigators and says reforms are desperately needed.
“Whenever you have leadership that’s supporting change, it has to work its way down to the rank and file,” she says.
City police have already made a number of changes ahead of the DOJ report release.
Police have revised their use of force policy, cameras have been put in all police transport vans and body cameras have hit the streets.
But David Rocah with the ACLU says the DOJ investigation won’t solve all issues.
“You cannot do effective crime fighting with a broken relationship between police and the community that they serve.”
Now federal officials will take steps to mend that relationship.
After the report is released, the Department of Justice will come to an agreement with the city on how to fix police practices.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby released the following statement ahead of Wednesday’s report:
“My office looks forward to reviewing the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department, but the report will likely confirm what many in our city already know or have experienced first hand.
While the vast majority of Baltimore City Police officers are good officers, we also know that there are bad officers and that the Department has routinely failed to oversee, train, or hold bad actors accountable. Since the death of Freddie Gray, a number of reforms have been put in place as a result of the prosecution of the six police officers.
I’m positive that the Department of Justice report will lead to even more reforms which is an important step in ensuring best practices for a fully functioning police-prosecutor relationship. We need each other to make our communities safe and I look forward to working with the Commissioner and City Hall in order to do so.”