Cummings Statement on Department of Justice Report on “Pattern or Practice” Investigation into Baltimore City Police Department

August 10, 2016
Press Release
Congressman Supported Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Request for Investigation

Washington, D.C. (August 10, 2016) — Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a report on its “pattern or practice” investigation into allegations of brutality and misconduct by the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD). Following the death of Mr. Freddie Gray in April of last year, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and all Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch in support of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s request that the DOJ investigate allegations of civil rights violations by the BPD. Cummings issued the following statement after the release of the report:

“This report validates what so many residents in Baltimore City already know to be true – that the trust between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve has been repeatedly violated and is in desperate need of repair. It also underscores just how much damage we must undo, and how much work is ahead of us.  

“It troubles me to read how frequently the Baltimore City Police Department has engaged in various disturbing patterns or practices, including excessive use of force and unjustified and severe disparities in the rates of stops, searches, and arrests of African Americans.  The statistics are simply astounding, and the unconstitutional violations of our citizens’ rights are unacceptable.

“But as troubling as this report is, the first step in fixing a problem is to understand it, so I am grateful for the Department of Justice’s hard work bringing to light the severity of the systemic issues facing the BPD.  The DOJ also importantly outlined the sources of these issues, including failures in training and equipping officers, collecting data, and holding officers accountable.  I look forward to the DOJ’s forthcoming suggestions on how the BPD can make the improvements necessary to solve these problems. 

“I commend Commissioner Kevin Davis for taking an open and constructive approach to the DOJ’s review, and for proactively implementing policy reforms to improve the BPD, including updating the use-of-force policy and requiring that new recruits spend their first three months in the community in order to learn about Baltimore City’s people and history.
“I am confident that Commissioner Davis will continue to reform our police department under the helpful guidance of the DOJ.  This must be a transformative moment that leads to a movement to make the BPD a model for the nation.

“All Baltimore City residents deserve a police department that they trust will respect and serve them and I intend to monitor the progress of this review in the months and years ahead to ensure that the BPD works tirelessly to regain the public’s confidence.”