The Department of Justice released a damning report on Tuesday night slamming the Baltimore police department, after it documented evidence of discrimination against African-American residents and a pattern of unconstitutional conduct.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Baltimore officials said they have already begun taking action to reform the city’s police department,
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city and its police department “have not been standing still” while the DOJ’s 14-month investigation was underway.
Baltimore’s police commissioner Kevin Davis told media the department has zero tolerance for officers who have committed “egregious violations,” adding that he has fired six police officers in 2016 alone.
“Those who have left this agency deserved to leave this agency,” he said.
Rawlings-Blake said the city is anticipating a cost of between $5 million and $10 million annually to implement the reforms — an estimate based on the costs other cities have faced when reforming their police departments.
The city is investing in technology and infrastructure to “modernise” the department, including installing recording cameras inside police transport vans, and continuing to roll out body cameras for officers, Rawlings-Blake said.
“It’s so very important that we get this right,” she said.
“The findings are challenging to hear, but let me be clear. I never sugar-coat our problems, nor will i run away from our most pressing challenges.”
The DOJ, which also documented serious concerns surrounding the police department’s transport practices and sexual assault investigations, is seeking to negotiate a court-enforceable “consent decree” with the city over the coming months.
The DOJ’s investigation began after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Grey in April 2015. Grey died after suffering neck injuries sustained in the back of a police transport van after he was arrested.
Similar consent decrees have been enforced by the DOJ in recent years to reform other city’s police departments, including that of Ferguson, Missouri.