Freddie Gray

DOJ to Launch Civil Rights Investigation of Baltimore Police

Expect an outcome focused on processes and procedures, not consequences.

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Looking to restore citizens' faith in lengthy bureaucratic processes.
NBC

This morning new Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is shifting gears in Baltimore. They had been conducting a "collaborative review" of Baltimore Police Department policies and practices, but at the request of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the DOJ is now going to perform a full civil rights investigation to examine the police's use of force and possible discriminatory behaviors.

In her press conference, Lynch said there were "generations of communities who feel separated from government overall" in Baltimore and said there was a "serious erosion of public trust" in Baltimore.

No kidding. The death of Freddie Gray is just the most visible and most recent of problems with the Baltimore Police department. Reason's Ed Krayewski had been highlighting the department's problems long before Gray's death. Here's NBC responding to today's news (video of the press conference is also at the link):

The Justice Department wrapped up a similar investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri, police in March. That investigation found that the department routinely violated the Constitution, engaged in racial bias and focused on making money over public safety.

And last year, the Justice Department concluded that police in Cleveland had engaged in a pattern of "unreasonable and in some cases unnecessary force," including shootings, blows to the head and excessive force against the mentally ill.

Lynch at the press conference also pointed out how frequently these investigations are coming with the full cooperation or even the request of the cities being examined, as is happening here. But here's what folks need to know about these investigations: They are all about fixing processes and procedures. They are not about holding people accountable. In other words: what the DOJ will provide here is guidance on how to not be violent thugs as police officers. It will treat all this abuse, those "nickel rides," where police deliberately drive unsafely to cause harm to passengers, as though these are training problems.

For evidence, let's take a look at a law enforcement agency that hasn't embraced the assistance of the Department of Justice with open arms: Maricopa County, Arizona, home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2011, the Department of Justice produced a 22-page report (pdf) detailing a significant number of severe civil rights violations when the sheriff's department dealt with anybody they suspected of being an illegal immigrant (regardless of whether they were).

Even faced with a hostile, uncooperative law enforcement agency, the remedial measures the DOJ demanded were nevertheless mostly about training, better data collection, a better complaint investigation system, and more community outreach and access. The report seems unable to engage in the idea that this police misconduct is not a result of ignorance of the Constitution or proper procedure, but deliberate indifference to such rules going all the way to the top. There was one whole sentence calling for "clear avenues for adjudication, discipline, and criminal prosecution, if necessary" of misbehaving deputies.

This shouldn't be read as a criticism of the reports and investigations themselves. Rather, this is a reminder that the DOJ's role in fixing Baltimore's problems is very limited. The Department of Justice will not be the ones to save Baltimore from a rogue police department. It is up to the citizens to hold its officials accountable and for the officials to hold the police accountable. As both Krayewski and Shikha Dalmia have previously noted, that's going to be hard to do with police unions protecting rogue officers from discipline and consequences. And we have yet to see anything suggesting the DOJ is willing to take on that toxic dynamic. All those special protections afforded to Baltimore police are part of that adjudication and discipline process the DOJ calls for.

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds wrote earlier in the week that federal control over local law enforcement brings in a whole host of other problems. If nothing else, remember that it's the Department of Justice's policies that have led to significant abuse of civil asset forfeiture by local law enforcement agencies across the country against innocent people. The mote in thy brother's eye and all that.

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  1. Loretta Lynch also announced an investigation of men who came home drinkin’ with lovin’ on their minds.

  2. What’s the point of policies and procedures if there are no consequences for ignoring them?

    1. So you can claimed to have followed them, thus being absolved of all responsibility?

      1. We have a winner!

  3. Seriously, what the fuck is the federal government doing nosing about every single one of these local issues? If Baltimore cops are out of control–and they are–isn’t the next step a state investigation?

    I fail to see what good has come to this country from federalizing everything. We’d be so much better off getting rid of at least 80% of what the federal government does.

    1. We’d be so much better off getting rid of at least 80% of what the federal government does.

      Yes.

      1. Add another yes.

    2. Realistically, the State is run by the same Democrat machine that runs Baltimore, so I’m not sure I see the point of a State investigation. Either the Machine cares that it has a serious problem, and will “council” the Baltimore authorities informally, or it doesn’t give a fat damn. I’m betting on the latter.

      Of course the Feds are ALSO run by the Democrat Establishment, so I’m not sure there’s much pint to a Federal investigation either??.

      1. I just meant as a point of law, not ultimate justice.

        1. Ah, but the existence of a Federal DOJ has, in the past, helped when both Local and State were disinclined to fix a problem. Having a Federal DOJ isn’t, in itself, a lousy idea. The problems are that A) When the whole structure from the top down is captured by one political philosophy, they aren’t going to fix jack and B) like all government agencies, you only really want it to go to work in a special set of circumstances, but the realities of how the budgets are set is that you will need for it to do all the time.

          War on Drugs anyone?

          1. I could buy the federal government as a check on state power of last resort, but that’s not at all what’s happening.

      2. you cite preciesly the list of reasons I do not, nor willl I ever, live in the State of Maryland, or any other of the beltway states infested with democrat socialists bent up spending as much money as possible for as little “bang for the buck” as possible. Same cancer running the whole mess. from King Kinyun on down to the cop on the beat….

    3. Pro… if you consider the process as being one of employment security for Fed employees instead of any other kind of “fix the problems goal-oriented” plan, it’s actually pretty easy to understand.
      🙂

  4. The first thing she’s going to suggest is to stop criminalizing every possible human activity. HA! Just kidding. She’s going to seize some assets to fund her show investigation.

  5. When are they investigating the IRS? The police are horrible, but the IRS is downright evil…

    1. They can’t investigate the IRS until there’s an appropriately large scandal from which they need a distraction.

  6. Wolves will never be accountable to sheep.

    1. Well said. Just don’t let The Laconic know you’re stealing his schtick.

  7. “what the DOJ will provide here is guidance on how to not be violent thugs as police officers. It will treat all this abuse…as though these are training problems”

    Most importantly, the DOJ will probably helpfully suggest that More Money should probably be spent on union-constituents. Because that is how you develop “better police-community relations” on Planet Liberal Scumbag. Also, why not throw in $100m to help people “rebuild” (nod to friend in contracting business)

    1. It’s really incredible how big of a scam the federal government has become.

  8. No need to investigate the Clintons for racketeering?

  9. “People feel cutoff from government”

    Is this a bad thing?

    We have more government now than ever before and I see it fixing exactly two thing, jack and shit.

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    1. A Dodge Caliber wagon………where do I sign up!

      1. Don’t fall for it – it’s a .22 caliber.

        1. No stopping power whatsoever. When you go to run over the zombies, you’re going to have to back up and do it again multiple times.

        2. Aw, come on. Plinking is fun!

        3. I want it more now. I haven’t been able to find mini-mag in years.

          1. Now I can appreciate your interest, FM, as I understand that mini-mags in “stunning green” are exceptionally hard to find.

  11. We need to be sure the civil rights of those noble law enforcement professionals are safeguarded.

    1. Don’t worry; the result will be 250 pages of verbs in the passive voice.

  12. “Rather, this is a reminder that the DOJ’s role in fixing Baltimore’s problems is very limited.”

    It doesn’t HAVE to be. If the DOJ people were actually interested in protecting civil rights and enforcing the law they could come out flat footed and ask if the kind of protection of rouge cops the Police Unions write into their contracts is in any way legal. They could start investigating the Maryland police union(s) as criminal rackets.

    They won’t, because they are a part of the vast Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive establishment that LIKES having unaccountable government goons at its beck and call. but they COULD.

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  14. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……
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  15. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds wrote earlier in the week that federal control over local law enforcement brings in a whole host of other problems.

    Federal control of the Police worked so well for Weimar Germany.

    1. I think the police generally are national in most countries. I mean, that’s a classic “Minister of the Interior” role. I think it’s a bad idea, but I also think we’re the anomaly. Or were.

  16. News flash: I, and most of my friends, have been feeling “cut off” from government at all levels for at least a couple of decades now. I think we WERE before that, just not feeling it yet. I could cite numerous things on which they ignore we the people, but I think I’d just be preachin to the choir….

  17. Democrats investigating Democrats on how they were conducting themselves on the Urban Plantation.
    I’m sure they’ll find that what can’t be blamed on George Bush, will land at the feet of Ronald Reagan.

  18. We need to ensure that the rights of civilians are protected.

  19. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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  20. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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  21. Nixon started the Race War.

    “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

    “[Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks” Haldeman, his Chief of Staff wrote, “The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

  22. I see where this is going.

    Illegal weapons? No problem. Unless it falls out of your pants in front of the officer and you don’t choose to run.

    Don’t want to stop and decide to run from the police? Go for it. I’m not going to chase you. Someone might get hurt, and I’d like to keep my pension, thank you.

    Resisting arrest? If you plan to resist, just tell me and I’ll get in my squad car and leave and go get a donut.

    The “prey” citizens of the “Bodymore” will be the real losers who will be victimized by the criminals who will operate with impunity.

    Thanks Obama!

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