The Justice Department’s Report On The Baltimore Police Could Foster Change

It was frustrating when the charges were dropped, and others acquitted, against the six police officers initially charged in the death of Freddie Gray. But the year long investigation that Gray’s death initiated by the Justice Department culminated with a report that found the Baltimore police do discriminate and use excessive force too often. The Justice Department’s Baltimore report could actually bring about real change, finally.

The report, which was posted on The New York Times website Tuesday night and is expected to be officially released to the public Wednesday, found that Baltimore officers, “routinely discriminate against blacks, use excessive force too often and are not adequately disciplined for misconduct.” That sounds a lot like everything America, and especially Baltimore residents, already knew.

When it comes to discrimination, the report found that the city’s officers make a huge amount of traffic stops, usually in poor, black neighborhoods. The DOJ found that the officers often make arrests for speech they deem aggressive — instead of an actual crime — and anyone who has watched any of the videos of police shooting a black person will recognize how that racist practice usually ends up. The situation quickly escalates and someone, usually the poor, black person, ends up dead. But this report could change all of that because it calls out a lot of the Baltimore PD’s BS.

Especially since there is a little clause in the Justice Department’s thesis about the department that says it’s not adequately disciplined for misconduct. I mean, thanks Captain Obvious. But even if it took a year and who knows exactly how many instances of excessive violence to come to the conclusion that one police department in America isn’t holding its officers accountable, it’s a freaking start.

And at this point, that’s all that many Americans and Black Lives Matter advocates are asking for — the beginnings of change. State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s top prosecutor, said she in a statement Wednesday she believed the report would “confirm what many in our city already know or have experienced firsthand.” She added that, “While the vast majority of Baltimore City Police officers are good officers, we also know that there are bad officers and that the department has routinely failed to oversee, train, or hold bad actors accountable.”

It was disappointing at the end of July when no one was indicted for the death of 25-year-old Gray. Or for any other police officer in any one of the shootings that have happened in the past few years. This report could change all of that — when the DOJ tells an agency it’s doing something wrong, it sort of has no choice but to start to change its ways. Even if it is too little too late for some families.