Baltimore pledges police reform after scathing report

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The Baltimore mayor says her city will implement police department reforms recommended by the U.S. Justice Department as quickly as possible after a report found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of the city’s black residents. Nathan Frandino reports.

Baltimore pledges police reform after scathing report

The Justice Department report holds nothing back.

It cites routine and unconstitutional stops, arrests and excessive force against Baltimore’s African-American residents as just a few of the practices adopted by the Baltimore Police Department.

Vanita Gupta heads the civil rights division at the Justice Department.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VANITA GUPTA, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, SAYING:

“The problems in Baltimore didn’t happen overnight or appear in a day. The pattern or practice that we found results from longstanding systemic deficiencies in the BPD.”

The investigation was launched after the death of black detainee Freddie Gray last year.

He died after suffering a neck injury in a police vehicle.

The incident triggered rioting and protests in Baltimore and fueled a national debate on police tactics.

Six officers were charged in Gray’s death, but four trials ended without a conviction.

Prosecutors dropped the remaining charges.

The report also finds disproportionate targeting of African-Americans.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VANITA GUPTA, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, SAYING:

“African-Americans accounted for 95 percent of the 410 individuals the department stopped at least 10 times.”

Gupta did credit the city though for beginning to initiate reforms, changes that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says will not come overnight.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, BALTIMORE MAYOR, SAYING:

“But our efforts have started the necessary process of change and reform in Baltimore. They reaffirm the city’s commitment to a police department that both protects our citizens as well as respects their rights.”

The mayor says other cities have spent between $5 and $10 million dollars a year on police department overhauls. The mayor says Baltimore will be no different.

Tags : report, Scathing, after, Reform, police, pledges, baltimore

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