“Investigation of the Baltimore Police Department” (2016) is a 14-month study of the BPD done by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in the wake of the Freddie Gray killing.
The DOJ concluded:
“We found that BPD has engaged in a pattern or practice of serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law that has disproportionately harmed Baltimore’s African-American community and eroded the public’s trust in the police.”
In other words: what Black Baltimore has known all along.
Racial profiling: Blacks make up 63% of Baltimore, yet account for:
- 84% of all stops;
- 91% of charges for “failure to obey” and trespassing;
- 95% of those stopped at least 10 times;
- 100% of those stopped at least 13 times.
Blacks are arrested for drugs five times more often than Whites, even though both use drugs at about the same rate.
Blacks are searched at a higher rate than Whites – even though they are less likely to be found with anything. One woman was publicly strip searched after being stopped for – a missing headlight.
The racial profiling is so over-the-top that one fill-in-the-blank template for an arrest report already had the race and gender filled in: black male.
“Community members living in the City’s wealthier and largely white neighborhoods told us that officers tend to be respectful and responsive to their needs”
Stuff police say:
- “Lock up all the black hoodies,” ordered one commander.
- “Do not treat criminals like citizens,” said an officer on Facebook.
- The N-word: There are at least 60 citizen reports of the police calling Blacks the N-word – yet only one police report brings it up.
Right in front of one DOJ investigator, a police supervisor told an officer to “make something up” when asked what reason he should give to break up a peaceful assembly of Black males.
You can be arrested for:
- standing near a public housing unit without a “valid reason.”
- sitting on your front steps.
- wearing a hoodie with your hands in your pockets in the dead of winter. If you resist, the police will beat you up and tase you and send you to the hospital – and then report that they showed “great restraint and professionalism.”
In fact, you can be arrested for little to no reason at all: many police reports do not give a good reason.
Unnecessary force is used by the police on children, on the mentally ill and on people who were not a threat at all but maybe said something an officer did not like. One police report listed a Black man’s weapon as “his mouth”.
“BPD’s systemic constitutional and statutory violations are rooted in structural failures.”
“BPD teaches officers to use aggressive tactics. BPD’s trainings fuel an ‘us vs. them’ mentality we saw some officers display toward community members, alienating the civilians they are meant to serve.”
Officers are badly trained and not held to account.
Reform: In the coming weeks Baltimore and the DOJ will hammer out a set of reforms that the courts can enforce.
– Abagond, 2016.
- The full DOJ report – PDF, 164 pages
- The DOJ report on the Ferguson police – the same exercise done on Ferguson after Michael Brown was killed
- Freddie Gray
- other views of the Baltimore police:
- more on Baltimore:
- The N-word
- The police
- slave patrols