U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday that the Justice Department is launching a civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.
Previously, Lynch explained, her team had examined whether particular officers violated policies, but now they will look into whether the Baltimore Police Department has violated the Constitution and the civil rights of residents.
“When I traveled to Baltimore earlier this week, I had the 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,” she said at a press conference. “But despite the progress being made, it was clear that recent events, including the tragic in-custody death of Mr. Freddie Gray, had given rise to a serious erosion of public trust.”
In order to address this issue, city officials and community leaders called on Lynch to change the Justice Department’s approach to the problem, she said.
Investigators will examine whether Baltimore police engage in practices that violate 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,” she said.
She thanked the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police for their support and praised the good cops for their handling of the city’s recent riots.
“We have seen brave officers upholding the right to peaceful protest while also sustaining serious injuries themselves during the city’s unfortunate foray into violence,” she said.
In the coming days, attorney and investigators for the department’s Civil Rights Division and police experts will engage with law enforcement and community members, while examining policies, practices and available data, Lynch said.
“At the conclusion of our investigation, we will issue a report of our findings,” she explained. “If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues.”
Read more: Yahoo News