Department of Justice inquiry begins in Baltimore

In one of her first major decisions, new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, announced a federal probe into the practices of the Baltimore Police Department, particularly in the area of searches, seizures, alleged racial discrimination and arrests of Baltimore’s black citizens.

As she addressed the members of the press, Lynch stated:  “Our goal is to work with the community, public officials and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore” and acknowledged the challenges of fractured relations between members of the inner-city black population and police.  When asked about the Freddy Gray arrest particularly, Lynch confessed race-based incidents:  “Coalesce years of frustration and anger.”

The Justice Department’s civil rights division will lead the investigation and is expected to begin the review within weeks.  If wrongdoing is uncovered, a court-enforced agreement is expected to be implemented to modify Baltimore’s police procedures.

The Freddy Gray death is deeply troubling, but was it the result of institutionalized racism or police exercising bad judgement?

The stark decision to invite the Justice Department to Baltimore surprised few.  A seductive choice, Baltimore can profit, stumble or experience both and the Justice Department will find itself tripping on their return to Washington if this investigation is mishandled.

Hasty decisions yield little.  If the six officers in Baltimore are found culpable, they will be punished.  If the Baltimore Police Department is guilty of serious racial transgressions, it is imperative the city enact recommendations from any final Justice Department summary.