POLITICS

Baltimore Mayor Seeks Help From Justice Department To Reform City's Police

05/06/2015 10:26 am ET | Updated May 06, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday she is seeking help from the Department of Justice to reform the Baltimore City Police Department.

"We all know that Baltimore continues to have a fractured relationship between the police and the community," Rawlings-Blake said, noting that the recent death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody contributed to that strained relationship.

"We have to get it right," she added. "Failure is not an option."

Rawlings said she's asked the DOJ to do a "pattern or practice" investigation within the Baltimore City Police Department, to see what could contribute to the use of excessive force.

"At the end of this process, I will hold those accountable, if change is not made," Rawlings-Blake said.

Rawlings said the Baltimore City Police Department will have body cameras for officers by the end of this year. She also noted the officers' bill of rights could be updated.

Her announcement comes just after Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore to meet with city and community leaders. DOJ spokesperson Dena Iverson said in a statement Wednesday Lynch is "actively considering" a "pattern or practice" investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department.

Last week, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced there was "probable cause to file criminal charges" against six Baltimore police officers over the death of Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody in April. Mosby said officers arrested Gray for possessing a lawful knife that police had originally claimed was an illegal switchblade. Mosby also said officers were "willfully negligent" by not providing Gray with medical assistance after he told them he couldn't breathe and requested a medic.

Edward Nero, one of the officers charged in Gray's death, filed a motion Monday requesting the police department and prosecutor produce the knife, and arguing the arrest was legal. Nero was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

This post has been updated with a statement from the DOJ. The headline of this story has been updated to clarify Rawlings-Blake is seeking the DOJ's help, rather than forming a partnership.

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