From the Hill: Baltimore’s mayor announced Wednesday that she has asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether the city’s police department had engaged in discrimination.
“Throughout my administration, we have taken a number of steps to change the culture and practices of the Baltimore Police Department,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) said. “Despite this progress, we all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community.”
“Such an investigation is essential if we are going to build on the foundation of reforms that we have instituted over the last four years,” she said.
“I’m asking the Department of Justice to investigate if our police department has engaged in a pattern or practice of stops, searches or arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment,” she added. “I am asking that they investigate what systemic challenges exist within our police department that can contribute to excessive force and discriminatory policing.”
Rawlings-Blake also said the city would implement police body cameras “as soon as possible.”
The mayor made the announcement one day after Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited the city and met with her.
Rawlings-Blake said she believed Lynch “understands the urgency of this request.”
The Justice Department later Wednesday indicated that it had not committed to conducting the investigation.
“The Attorney General has received Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s request for a Civil Rights Division ‘pattern or practice’ investigation into the Baltimore Police Department,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson in a statement. “The Attorney General is actively considering that option in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials, and community, faith and youth leaders in Baltimore yesterday.”
The mayor made the request for an investigation into the city’s policing practices after weeks of protests over the way police in Baltimore treat minorities. Protests that began after 25-year-old Freddie Gray sustained a fatal injury in police custody were mostly peaceful, with the exception of rioting that took place on April 27.
Six officers have been charged in Gray’s death.
The Justice Department is already investigating Gray’s death for possible civil rights violations and has been working with Baltimore officials to analyze their policing practices since before his death.
Under Lynch’s predecessor, Eric Holder, the department investigated several police forces around the country for civil rights violations.