Attorney General Loretta Lynch Announces Investigation into Baltimore Police Department

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at a Press Conference Announcing Investigation into Baltimore Police Department

Washington, DC,.
United States ~
Friday, May 8, 2015

Good morning, and thank you all for being here. I am joined today by Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, and Director Ron Davis of the Community Oriented Policing Services Office, or COPS.

Over the past few days and weeks, we have watched as Baltimore struggled with issues that face cities across the country today. We have seen the tragic loss of a young man’s life. We have seen a peaceful protest movement coalesce to express the concern of a beleaguered community. We have seen brave officers upholding the right to peaceful protest, while also sustaining serious injury during the city’s unfortunate foray into violence. And we have watched it all through the prism of one of the most challenging issues of our time: police-community relations.

When I traveled to Baltimore earlier this week, I had an opportunity to see the significant work that the city and the police department had done with the COPS Office over the last six months through a collaborative reform process. But despite the progress being made, it was clear that recent events – including the tragic in-custody death of Freddie Gray – had given rise to a serious erosion of public trust. And in order to address this issue, I was asked – by city officials and community leaders – to augment our approach to the situation with a court enforcement model. I have spent the last few days with my team considering which of the Justice Department’s tools for police reform best meets the current needs of the Baltimore Police Department and the broader Baltimore community.

Today, the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into whether the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law. This investigation will begin immediately, and will focus on allegations that Baltimore Police Department officers use excessive force, including deadly force; conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests; and engage in discriminatory policing. The COPS Office will continue to work with the Baltimore Police Department and the collaborative reform process will now convert to the provision of technical assistance to the Baltimore Police Department. Some may ask how this differs from our current work with the Baltimore Police Department. The answer is: rather than examining whether the police department violated good policies, we will now examine whether they violated the Constitution and the community’s civil rights. This approach has been welcomed by the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, and I want to thank them for their support and their partnership as we move forward.

In the coming days, Civil Rights Division attorneys and investigators conducting the investigation, and the police experts who will assist them, will be engaging with community members and law enforcement. We will examine policies, practices and available data. And at the conclusion of our investigation, we will issue a report of our findings. If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues. We will also continue to move forward to improve policing in Baltimore even as the pattern or practice investigation is underway.

Our goal is to work with the community, public officials and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has conducted dozens of these pattern or practice investigations, and we have seen from our work in jurisdictions across the country that communities that have gone through this process are experiencing improved policing practices and increased trust between the police and the community. In fact, I encourage other cities to study our past recommendations and see whether they can be applied in their own communities. Ultimately, this process is meant to ensure that officers are being provided with the tools they need – including training, policy guidance and equipment – to be more effective, to partner with civilians and to strengthen public safety.

For many people across the country, the tragic death of Freddie Gray and the violence that followed has come to personify the city, as if that alone is Baltimore. But earlier this week, I visited with members of the community who took to the streets in the days following the violence to pick up trash and to clear away debris – and they are Baltimore. I visited with elected officials who are determined to help the neighborhoods they love come back stronger and more united – and they are Baltimore. I visited youth leaders who believe that there’s a brighter day ahead – and they are Baltimore too. I visited with law enforcement officers who had worked 16 days without a break, and were focused not on themselves or even their own safety, but on protecting the people who live in their community. They, too, are Baltimore.

I have no illusions that reform will be easy; the challenges we face did not arise in a day, and change will not come overnight. It will take time and sustained effort. But the people I met in Baltimore – from protestors to public officials to an officer who had been injured amidst the violence – all said the same thing: “I love my city, and I want to make it better.” That’s why I’m so optimistic about this process. That’s why I’m so hopeful about the days to come. And that’s why I am confident that, as a result of this investigation and the hard work still ahead, all members of the Baltimore community – residents and law enforcement alike – will be able to create a stronger, safer, more united city together.

At this time, I’d like to open it up to a few questions.

This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Current Events, Justice, Justice for Freddie Gray, Police bruality, Racial Bias, Racial Profiling, Racism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Announces Investigation into Baltimore Police Department

  1. Liza says:

    I keep thinking about how we wouldn’t even have a glimpse into the depth and breadth of this police brutality problem without social media on the Internet. This isn’t new, not a bit of it.

    This level of public awareness, which is relatively new, requires a completely different way of thinking to solve these problems and deal with the current crisis. The old ways are just not going to be as effective. And I’m not talking about body cameras on cops. It should be clear by now that the whole concept of “policing” in America needs to be redefined. Who are the police and what should they be doing now that they are so exposed? Who should we even allow to police us? What kind of a person should be allowed to be a cop?

    • Liza says:

      Reminder: The police work for us, they are civil servants.

      • Ametia says:

        Presently, they are the “American Gestapo.”

      • Liza says:

        That is certainly what we’re seeing. The torture and killing of Freddie Gray parallels what the Nazis did to people. I guess all that is missing is that they didn’t cremate his dead body. They just went back to the office and colluded on their story.

    • Ametia says:

      Without social media, we’d all be FUCKED, Liza. Pardon my language, but we don’t have trusted media in AMERICA, not on cable or major news networks anyway.

      They’ve all sold their SOULS to their Masters for the BENJAMIN$.

      • Liza says:

        Yeah, there’s a reason why the cops don’t want to be filmed by citizens and are trying to stop it in some places. The cops think that everything will be just fine if they can get some laws passed that forbid filming them. There’s just too much truth out there.

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      What the Justice Department can do: They need to establish a unified code of Constitutional Conduct for Peace Officers and Police Departments, across the Nation to ensure that Constitutional mandates are known, observed and enforced on and by Police Authorities everywhere. They should apply to Congress for a resolution, granting the Justice Department the power to certify Police and Law enforcement department everywhere. As it is now, every hamlet and lane can set up it’s own police and/or law enforcement authorities with little if any oversight, little if any regard or knowledge of Constitutional Law, and then hire whom-so-ever they please, including rogue cops, bounced from police forces elsewhere for misconduct or other shortcomings, including but not limited to racism.

      The Justice Department should also have the powers to appoint special prosecutors in places where Police are to be accused, and select the venues where the cases will be tried. Once police know that they will not be able to rely on their local legal networks to shield themselves from accountability, things should change really quick.

      It has to be recognized that as law enforcement officials, police and local prosecutors as well as judges and politicians, they form a formidable network of connections that rogues, both agency and individual officers, have a vested interest in shielding from accountability.
      That is something that citizens do not have. Most of the population being policed, do not have strong legal, political or even social ties, that would allow them to have their side heard as effectively as those who work inside law enforcement.

      Local law enforcement agencies, local political officials, judges, lawyers, prosecutors and police often work closely together and have some interest in seeing the status quo maintained rather than upset by the prosecution of rogues. That paradigm has to be changed dramatically.

  2. Ametia says:



    But someone please tell me when we are going to start talking about how these police departments are going to get rid of the bad, sadistic, and/or racist cops who are killing and maiming black people, mostly black men. That’s really what I want to know right now.

    and THIS:

    Without ANY investigation, I would like to think we could all agree that these cops are violating the civil rights of black citizens. A young man is riding his bicycle, makes eye contact with a cop, and ends up with a broken neck, a severed spine, a crushed voice box, a week in the hospital, and then he’s dead. If ANY INTERPRETATION OF OUR CONSTITUTION allows this, then Congress better get to work right now on some constitutional amendments.

  3. sunshine616 says:

    Again, tell me the cops aren’t a mob. Got everyone scared and shook. Not one soul, except for mosby, has had the courage to call out this egregious, lawless behavior. I’m tired of the tip toeing around their feelings when the citizens feelings and civil rights are being trampled on.

    • Ametia says:

      It’s not rocket science, is it sunshine66? Regardless, you commit a crime, you get charged via evidence, you ass goes to the slammer!

      There ain’t shit to investigate. These police dept. practices have been around forever.

  4. Liza says:

    Re-posting my comment from Friday open thread:

    I will agree that these DOJ investigations are a good thing. Certainly the DOJ’s Ferguson investigation documented the dire situation and laid the groundwork for reform. On this I agree.

    But someone please tell me when we are going to start talking about how these police departments are going to get rid of the bad, sadistic, and/or racist cops who are killing and maiming black people, mostly black men. That’s really what I want to know right now.

    Without ANY investigation, I would like to think we could all agree that these cops are violating the civil rights of black citizens. A young man is riding his bicycle, makes eye contact with a cop, and ends up with a broken neck, a severed spine, a crushed voice box, a week in the hospital, and then he’s dead. If ANY INTERPRETATION OF OUR CONSTITUTION allows this, then Congress better get to work right now on some constitutional amendments.

    Everyone wants to dance around the truth, that people are being murdered by cops. Just tell me that these cops who have already killed and maimed will be prosecuted. And then tell me how we’re going to get rid of bad cops. Tell me how the CRISIS will be addressed and then talk about how the entire police department will be investigated.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Ari Melber ✔ @AriMelber

    AG Lynch formally announcing a new review of entire Baltimore Police Dept at 10am.
    (It’s a pattern & practice” review under 94 Crime Act.)

    • Ametia says:

      Description of the Laws We Enforce

      The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, allows us to review the practices of law enforcement agencies that may be violating people’s federal rights. If a law enforcement agency receives federal funding, we can also use the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex or national origin by agencies receiving federal funds. We may act if we find a pattern or practice by the law enforcement agency that systemically violates people’s rights. Harm to a single person, or isolated action, is usually not enough to show a pattern or practice that violates these laws.

      The Section has investigated dozens of law enforcement agencies nationwide. In our investigations, we typically meet with law enforcement officers and other members of the local community. We hire police practice experts to help us review incidents, documents, and agency policies and practices. These experts also help us to develop remedies, and to assess whether corrective steps have fixed the violations of law.

      The problems addressed in our cases include use of excessive force; unlawful stops, searches, or arrests; and discriminatory policing. We have looked at bias based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and sexual-orientation. We have also addressed unlawful responses to individuals who observe, record, or object to police actions.


      Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute 42 U.S.C. § 14141
      § 14141. Cause of action
      (a) Unlawful conduct

      It shall be unlawful for any governmental authority, or any agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

      (b) Civil action by Attorney General

      Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of paragraph (1) has occurred, the Attorney General, for or in the name of the United States, may in a civil action obtain appropriate equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate the pattern or practice.

  6. Ametia says:

    I don’t want to hear shit about police officers are ‘good’ people. This does not COMPUTE in a world where they are taking out our young UNARMED black boys and men, in the name of ‘protecting”

    Protecting what & whom?

  7. Ametia says:

    LIZA, I’m just listening to AG Lynch, and I get your continued frustration.

    • Liza says:

      Yeah, I’m more of the Marilyn Mosby type, but I do understand why AG Lynch has to step softly on the national stage.

      I just don’t want to see this become the repetitious pattern for the DOJ. Black person killed or maimed by law enforcement, locals protest, DOJ investigates, DOJ writes scathing report, NO ONE CHARGED BY DOJ. When everyone is guilty, no one is guilty.
      The whole damn thing becomes just another bureaucratic problem/issue until they start to arrest and convict some perpetrators and lock them up.

  8. Ametia says:

    ‘Patterns of excessive force” REALLY?

  9. Ametia says:

    Freddie Gray= “Tragic death”

    This was MURDER

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