U.S. Department of Justice probes police department

But what will happen afterwards?

By Benjamin Land

Police brutality cases keep trending on social media and on news channels throughout America. While the police-related shootings of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers Jr. in Missouri have justly garnered most of the public scrutiny on police brutality, Baltimore was recently added to the cities affected last month.

The Anniversary of Tyrone West’s Death Protest. Photo credit: http://www.themsuspokesman.com

The Anniversary of Tyrone West’s Death Protest.
Photo credit: http://www.themsuspokesman.com

Last month, the incident involving Baltimore resident Kolin Truss and police officer Vincent Cosum made local headlines as the latest addition to police brutality altercations from the Baltimore City Police Department. This particular incident found itself spotlighted in local publications across the city, which in turn reminded readers of similar cases in the past. These incidents were frequent enough that it provoked the Department of Justice to initiate a probe into the BCPD for police brutality as well as officer misconduct.

The DOJ’s probe’s hasn’t been released to the public, yet, but the sheer fact that there is a probe to begin with has galvanized local civil rights leaders into calling for a more invasive one. According to the Baltimore Sun, the local branch of the NAACP is spearheading the move for the second probe, citing reasons such as distrust of the current mayoral administration as to why a federal investigation should be carried out. The current probe is a “collaborative review” that was agreed upon by both the mayor’s office and the DOJ.

At the moment, opinions on the outcome of the probe and what it means are mixed. But all concerned parties seem to agree on the need for an internal reform of the current police department. Cases like the above, and several settlements that are currently being paid from the city to residents, are indicative of the threat that violent cops who remain in the department pose.

Earlier this month, the city released a report that discussed on- going changes within the BCPD. The report stressed two suggestions: increased staff to man the Internal Affairs Division and the Force Investigative Team, as well more equipment that will assist in the investigation of police misconduct. The second suggestion is equipping officers with body cameras for a more “in-depth” view of any altercations with residents.

The latter suggestion is widely popular with the City Council and criminal defense lawyers, as well as being supported by activists and citizens via the social media coverage of the Missouri protests. If implemented completely, the suggestions could be the first step in repairing the relationship Baltimore City residents have with the BCPD in the immediate future.

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