Baltimore police racially biased, says scathing US government report

Baltimore

Baltimore

The US Justice Department on Wednesday unveiled a scathing report that found the Baltimore police department has disproportionately stopped, searched and arrested African Americans for years.

The report was released at a news conference in the city more than a year after riots provoked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody.

The 163-page report found that Baltimore police engage in a “pattern” of conduct that violates the US constitution.

Although the city is 63 percent black, African Americans account for 84 percent of pedestrian stops, the report found.

African Americans also made up 95 percent of 410 individuals who were stopped at least 10 times by police officers from 2010-15, the report added.

Between 2010-15, African Americans made up 82 percent of the people stopped by police for traffic violations despite accounting for only 60 percent of the city’s drivers, the report found.

Police enforcement strategies “produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans,” the report concluded.

The police department also uses “excessive force,” and retaliates against “people engaged in constitutionally-protected expression,” the report found.

The findings “identified concerns” about the police department’s transport of individuals and investigation of sexual assaults.

Gray died a week after suffering a severed spine while being transported in the back of a police van, unsecured and with his hands and feet bound, after being arrested on April 12, 2015 while fleeing police.

The report attributed the shortcomings to “deficient policies, training, oversight and accountability, and policing strategies that do not engage effectively with the community.”

The report is a step towards implementing what the Justice Department called “lasting reforms” to rebuild trust in the Baltimore police and ensure effective policing.

“We have a very long journey ahead of us and I’m grateful we can bring this process of meaningful change while I am mayor,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told a news conference.