The U.S. Department of Justice will conduct a civil rights investigation into allegations of brutality and misconduct by the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts announced, says the Baltimore Sun. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Batts requested the probe after a six-month investigation by the Sun found city residents have suffered battered faces and broken bones during arrests. The city has paid $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements in 102 cases since 2011, Nearly all of the people who received payouts were cleared of criminal charges.
“Over the last two years, we have not stopped working to reshape and reform the Baltimore Police Department,” Batts said. Such broad inquiries by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division examine whether officers have a history of discrimination or using force beyond standard guidelines. They typically lead to consent decrees and years of court monitoring. Twenty federal probes into police departments have started in the past six years, in cities such as Cleveland and New Orleans. Baltimore’s mayor and commissioner said they started talking weeks ago with officials in other cities where similar investigations have occurred. City officials had been briefed on the results of the Sun’s findings months ago.