The U.S. Department of Justice has pledged to conduct a thorough, independent and objective review of the city police force after hearing more concerns from residents about excessive force and other misconduct by Baltimore officers, the Baltimore Sun reports. While some Baltimoreans called for a full-scale civil rights probe of the city police, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) said federal officials believe working with the department is the best way to improve its interactions with the community.
COPS director Ronald Davis said the Justice Department decided on that approach, which is called collaborative review, after considering the reforms instituted in last two years by Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “The civil rights division is a part of the process,” Davis said, “and they retain the ability to come into Baltimore if reform is not made, if recommendations are not implemented. … Nothing is off the table.” Rawlings-Blake and Batts asked the Justice Department to examine the department this month. The request came after the Sun reported that the city had paid $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements in 102 civil suits alleging police misconduct since 2011. Nearly all of the people involved in the incidents that led to the lawsuits were cleared of criminal charges.