Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Thursday he welcomed “with open arms” a request by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a Department of Justice civil rights review of his department.
“We have never shied away from scrutiny or assistance,” Batts said in a statement. “Our work is ongoing and anyone who wishes to be a part of helping the department better connect with the community will always be welcome.”
Rawlings-Blake asked for a full-scale civil rights review of the “patterns and practices” of the Baltimore police department in the wake of 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death. Gray died from injuries sustained while in police custody and his death sparked outrage across the city. Six police officers were charged last week in Gray’s April 19 death.
“We need to have a foundation of trust,” Mayor Blake said at a Wednesday press conference. A “collaborative review” of the Baltimore police department by the Department of Justice is already ongoing, but that doesn’t carry the weight of the full-scale civil rights investigation Mayor Blake has asked for.
Batts noted Thursday the Baltimore Police Department was already attempting to address some of these issues, and said as a result of changes they began implementing over two years ago, there was a “54% reduction in discourtesy complaints, a more than 40% reduction in excessive force complaints and a dramatic drop in lawsuits.”