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Baltimore Police Union Suggests Fixes After Scathing DOJ Report

More training and more supervisors were among the union's suggested fixes after the DOJ found it systematically discriminated against blacks.
Image: Baltimore police walk near a mural depicting Freddie Gray
Baltimore police walk near a mural depicting Freddie Gray after prosecutors dropped remaining charges against the three Baltimore police officers who were still awaiting trial in Gray's death, in Baltimore, on July 27, 2016. The decision by prosecutors comes after a judge had already acquitted three of the six officers charged in the case.Steve Ruark / AP, file

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore police union released its own suggested fixes on Thursday after a scathing Department of Justice report found officers have used excessive force, made unwarranted arrests and systematically discriminated against African Americans.

The police union's recommendations include overhauling training curriculum, clarifying policies and procedures, and streamlining use of force standards for all units across the department.

The union is also asking for more supervisors, and increased training for them prior to rank promotions, and the creation of a new rank between officer and sergeant. Officers also want better technology, and say involuntary overtime work should be eliminated.

The DOJ report, issued in August, outlined discriminatory practices by Baltimore Police and mandated sweeping reforms. The Justice Department opened an investigation into the department last May, less than a month after the city's streets exploded in civil unrest, prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man whose neck was broken in the back of a police wagon.

The Justice Department looked at hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including internal affairs files and data on stops, searches and arrests.

It found that one African-American man was stopped 30 times in less than four years, and never charged. Of 410 people stopped at least 10 times from 2010 to 2015, 95 percent were black. During that time, no one of any other race was stopped more than 12 times.

With the release of the report, the city agreed to negotiate with the Justice Department a set of police reforms over the next few months to fend off a government lawsuit. The reforms will be enforceable by the courts.

The union in its recommendations acknowledged that the discriminatory practices investigators identified were indeed rampant, but blamed them on the police department's emphasis on statistics.

"Our membership agrees that the current use of bad practices has contributed to the present climate of the distrust between the citizens of Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department," the union said. "For too many years the focus of the agency has been stat driven."