A new Department of Justice report finds that the Baltimore Police Department has practiced racially discriminatory policing policies, which include targeting black residents and using excessive force for illegally detaining residents. The report comes on the heels of a number of cities cracking down on police brutality and creating more transparency in their prospective departments. In particular, Baltimore has come under the spotlight for the death of Freddie Gray, which recently saw all charges dropped for the officers involved in his arrest.
The 163-page report, which paints a pretty damning picture of the Baltimore PD, found the city’s “zero tolerance enforcement” (that was enacted in 1999), created an atmosphere where excessive force was the norm and continued to be implemented after it was officially done away with in 2009. Under the zero tolerance policing policy, officers were reported to target predominantly poor black neighborhoods and would arrest anyone they saw as a threat. The Justice Department report, as reported by The Washington Post, found police would even stop people who were being “disrespectful” to them. And the department has been implicated for unconstitutional strip searches as well.
When former mayor Martin O’Malley instituted the zero tolerance policy in 1999, officers arrested on average 100,000 people per year. Although the city cut that average down to 40,000, much damage was done with the Justice Department saying the “relationship with certain Baltimore communities is broken.” Baltimore prodigal son and journalist David Simon chimed in to say the former mayor’s policies were to blame.