City’s Office of Civil Rights & Commissioner Davis stress commitment to transparency
BALTIMORE (WBFF) – Baltimore’s Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, the only independent agency authorized to investigate public complaints about police misconduct and excessive force, says it’s looking forward to reviewing the report of the Department of Justice’s civil rights probe into the city’s police department. Meanwhile, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis echoed the sentiment, saying that because of the findings, "We will be better, and we will prove it to the city and the world." He looks forward to implementing recommendations and changes, starting now.
On Wednesday, the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement said, “We take our responsibility and commitment to police transparency and accountability very seriously.”
The Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement says, “The City is in the midst of a transformative time that has seen recent progress but we are evermore dedicated to remaining vigilant in our commitment to Empower, Educate, and Enforce.”
The report, probing “systematic definitions” and civil rights violations, found that Baltimore City Police officers routinely violated people’s constitutional rights and their “zero tolerance” policies created mistrust.
The city’s civil rights authorities say that they’ll be working to identify “elements therein that will prove the police standards and provide the necessary changes that the City must undertake.”
In reaction to the report, Commissioner Davis acknowledged change and growth are painful, but added, "but nothing is as painful as being stuck in a place we don't belong."
He thanked the Mayor for igniting this necessary probe and also said that the officers that the DOJ found had committed the most egregious actions are fired, and added that he was "very concerned" about the details of the report.
"I have zero tolerance for racism in the department," Davis said.
"Change takes time, change takes commitment and change takes trust," Davis promised, seeing the moment as an opportunity, and said changes made were not being done "to" the officers but "for" the officers.
The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for maintaining a Civilian Review Board that citizens can use to report incidents of police abusing power before board members, who in turn, will make recommendations to police. The CRB recently was in the spotlight after Baltimore’s FOP filed a lawsuit seeking to strip the board of its influence. In turn, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief, urging the court to dismiss the FOP’s lawsuit.
In that brief, the ACLU said the FOP’s lawsuit seeks to permanently bar the police department from handing over records of any Internal Affairs investigations to the Civilian Review Board, and seeks to strip the CRB of its ability to independently assess internal affairs records.
The brief argues that the FOP’s lawsuit is a “transparent attempt to shut down any possibility of civilian oversight of police in Maryland,” perpetuating distrust by “reinforcing the perception that police believe they are above the law.”