Today, we announce the outcome of the Department of Justice’s investigation of the
Baltimore City Police Department (BPD).1 After engaging in a thorough investigation, initiated at
the request of the City of Baltimore and BPD, the Department of Justice concludes that there is
reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the
Constitution or federal law. BPD engages in a pattern or practice of:
(1) making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests;
(2) using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of
stops, searches and arrests of African Americans;
(3) using excessive force; and
(4) retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression.
This pattern or practice is driven by systemic deficiencies in BPD’s policies, training,
supervision, and accountability structures that fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police
effectively and within the bounds of the federal law.
We recognize the challenges faced by police officers in Baltimore and other communities
around the country. Every day, police officers risk their lives to uphold the law and keep our
communities safe. Investigatory stops, arrests, and force—including, at times, deadly force—are all
necessary tools used by BPD officers to do their jobs and protect the safety of themselves and
others. Providing policing services in many parts of Baltimore is particularly challenging, where
officers regularly confront complex social problems rooted in poverty, racial segregation and
deficient educational, employment and housing opportunities. Still, most BPD officers work hard to
provide vital services to the community.
The pattern or practice occurs as a result of systemic deficiencies at BPD. The agency fails
to provide officers with sufficient policy guidance and training; fails to collect and analyze data
regarding officers’ activities; and fails to h