It’s no secret that the Baltimore City police department has been under the microscope since the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. Police misconduct was in question and there was a major outcry from communities all over town demanding justice and a change in the BCPD. On August 10, 2016, Baltimore officials pledged to carry out sweeping police department reforms following a scathing U.S. Justice Department report that was released on Tuesday. Let’s discuss what these new Baltimore police reforms mean for Irvington and other communities in our city.
What did the U.S. Justice Department Report Find About Baltimore Police?
According to an article about the new Baltimore police reforms, the U.S. Justice Department report (which focused on the 2,600-officer department in Baltimore) found, “that officers in the majority-black city routinely violated the civil rights of black residents.” Additionally, the report, “found that black residents were regularly subjected to stops as pedestrians and motorists, arrests, strip searches and excessive force in violation of U.S. constitutional rights and federal anti-discrimination laws.” Here are a few other facts found from the report that have an impact on the Baltimore community:
- Police stopped black residents 3x as often as white residents
- Black drivers accounted for 82% of traffic stops, even though they only make up 60% of population of motorists in the city
- 63% of Baltimore residents are black, but blacks faced 86% of charges by police
- Out of 410 pedestrians who were stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed, 95% were black
New Baltimore Police Reforms: What Do They Call For?
Nobody in Baltimore wants to feel unsafe in their own neighborhood or unjustly targeted, whether they are a citizen or a police officer. The findings from the investigation of the BCPD indicate that the communities around Baltimore are not entirely unjust in feeling untrustworthy of the men and women who are supposed to be protecting them. That being said, there are still great officers in our city, and hopefully the new Baltimore police reforms will ensure that officers who act out of policy and against constitutional rights will not be tolerated. Here’s what you need to know:
- Baltimore and federal officials have agreed that the new police department changes will be overseen by an independent monitor.
- Six officers have been fired this year as part of reform efforts
- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said “It’s not going to be easy to reform the department, and it’s not going to be quick.”
- The police department has already revised 26 procedures, “including changing in policies, training, a body-camera program and use-of-force guidelines.”
- The framework agreement calls for:
- Improved training and monitoring of officers
- Data collection to ensure officers adhere to legal and constitutional standards
- Strategies to rebuild relationships with city residents
The new Baltimore police reforms leave a lot to be expected from Irvington and other communities who have been eager for change. It may take some time for the citizens of Baltimore to fully trust the police department again, but it is a great sign that the city is making an effort to rebuild relationships and trust in our communities.
Ready to Strengthen Your Community? Talk to My Brother’s Keeper About Helping
To learn more about our youth programs, how to help, or to find out more about our services including hot meal programs, employment assistance, health services and identifying possible emergency shelter, call MBK today at 410-644-3194. You can also follow our official MBK page on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, to stay up to date on our center’s progress and upcoming events in the community.