12 insanely horrifying things we learned from the Justice Department’s report on Baltimore’s police
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report about the widespread constitutional violations that Baltimore residents have been subjected to by the Baltimore Police Department.
The report confirms what residents have long known: that the whiter, more affluent parts of town get relatively respectful, accommodating police services, while the blacker, poorer parts of town are handled with contempt and indifference to the law. These factors all contributed to the widespread civil unrest that followed the death of resident Freddie Gray last year, at the hands of police officers.
Yet the specifics revealed from the DOJ’s investigation illustrate just how awful the problem has been in recent years. The department also found an appalling record of abuse, degrading comments and institutional sexism when it came to how the BPD treated women.
The following are just a few of the many jaw-dropping findings that the report uncovered.
Hundreds of black residents were stopped by police at least 10 times between 2010 and 2015, in stops that often have no constitutional grounds. Seven black men were stopped over 30 times during this time period.
Over 11,000 unconstitutional arrests happened over that time period due to these tactics.
It’s worth noting here that Freddie Gray was subjected to what local courts acknowledged was an “unconstitutional” detention when his spinal column was mysteriously severed in the back of a police van, leading to his death. All charges against the officers involved were eventually dropped.
A BPD sergeant ordered an unconstitutional stop while on a ride-along with Department of Justice investigators.
Black residents are stopped at highly disproportionate rates, even as data shows that black residents are far more likely to not have illegal contraband when being searched.
The department routinely roughs up and detains residents who were unconstitutionally stopped, while neglecting to charge them with any crimes. In some cases, this behavior has even been rewarded by superiors.
The Baltimore Police Department “frequently” performs illegal and degrading strip searches of residents on the side of the street.
This is one story.
Black residents far outpace other groups when it comes to being charged with misdemeanor offenses that are used as a pretense for unconstitutional harassment.
This is despite the fact that “misdemeanor arrests of African Americans are dismissed or declined at significantly higher rates than other arrests,” the DOJ wrote. “The large racial differences in the proportion of dismissed charges for misdemeanor street offenses demonstrate that, where officers have wider discretion to make arrests, they exercise it in a discriminatory manner.”
One arrest template for the charge of “trespassing” had the words “black male” automatically included in the arrest description.