DOJ Report on Baltimore Police Department. How Unlawful Arrests Are Damaging.

The DOJ released its report on its investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.  You can read the entire 164 page report here.  I’ve also placed a link to the report on the right-side border under “Documents”.

The DOJ ends its report by summarizing its findings;

“For the foregoing reasons, the Department of Justice concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law. The pattern or practice includes: (1) making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; (2) using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans; (3) using excessive force; and (4 ) retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally -protected expression. We also identified concern s regarding BPD’s transport of individuals and investigation of sexual assaults. BPD’s failings result from deficient policies, training, oversight, and accountability, and policing strategies that do not engage effectively with the community the Department serves. “

The part I want address concerns stops and arrests that are not prosecuted.

“BPD officers recorded over 300,000 pedestrian stops from January 2010–May 2015, and the true number of BPD’s stops during this period is likely far higher due to under-reporting. These stops are concentrated in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and often lack reasonable suspicion.”

“BPD’s pedestrian stops are concentrated on a small portion of Baltimore residents. BPD made roughly 44 percent of its stops in two small, predominantly African-American districts that contain only 11 percent of the City’s population. Consequently, hundreds of individuals—nearly all of them African American—were stopped on at least 10 separate occasions from 2010–2015. Indeed, seven African-American men were stopped more than 30 times during this period.”

“Only 3.7 percent of pedestrian stops resulted in officers issuing a citation or making an arrest. And, as noted below, many of those arrested based upon pedestrian stops had their charges dismissed upon initial review by either supervisors at BPD’s Central Booking or local prosecutors.”

And,

“African Americans accounted for 91 percent of the 1,800 people charged solely with “failure to obey” or “trespassing ”; 89 percent of the 1,350 charges for making a false statement to an officer; and 84 percent of the 6,500 people arrested for “disorderly conduct.” Moreover, booking officials and prosecutors decline charges brought against African Americans at significantly higher rates than charges against people of other races, indicating that officers’ standards for making arrests differ by the race of the person arrested.”

There’s more to this than the surface.  It’s the start of a process of institutionalized oppression.

In Maryland, like many other states, prosecutors do not expunge arrest records when they dismiss a case.  It’s up to the person who was arrested to dig into their pocket and pay for that process.

institutionalized racismThere is harm caused to persons who have been unlawfully arrested that needs to be addressed. It involves employment potential, college admissions, military enlistment and other situations when background checks are conducted.

For those individuals who must have licenses and/or certifications to work in their profession, an arrest on their record when it comes time to renew their license might cause them to put in additional time to explain to licensing boards that the case never went to trial.

Many decision makers for hiring and in school admissions are not properly trained to understand background reports.  To them, an arrest is an arrest is an arrest.  Some have the prejudicial opinion that if a person was arrested, then they must have done something wrong.  They don’t want to hear explanations.   They are too many other candidates.

Military recruiters are a bit more knowledgeable.  However, even when they try to help recruits expunge arrest records, they run into a time-consuming process that takes months and delay the recruiting process.

Police officers arrest activist DeRay McKesson

Police officers arrest activist DeRay McKesson during a protest along Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

Several weeks ago, Deray McKesson, an activist in the Black Lives Matter Movement, was arrested during a protest in Baton Rouge.   Deray was arrested along with approximately 185 other individuals on charges of obstructing a highway.  The charges were subsequently dismissed.   Deray and other Plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit.

Among the allegations is one that I find to be of utmost importance.  It states; “class members were required to post substantial bail and pay administrative fees and court fees to obtain their releases, and will have to pay additional fees and costs to have their arrests expunged. Class members have incurred substantial attorneys’ fees and will incur further attorneys’ fees to clear their criminal arrest records, as a result for defendants’ conduct.”

Personally, I wanted to jump up and down shouting “Hallelujah” when reading the above.  At last, it is being acknowledged that the harm of being unlawfully arrested does not end when the individual walks out of the jail.

Expunging a case that was dismissed by prosecutors requires paying fees.  The paperwork involved includes sending notices and certificates of service, and can be complicated for the average individual who has no experience preparing documents for filing with the court.  The safest thing for them to do is hire legal counsel.

Then, there are court filing fees and if the court orders expungement, there are additional fees for a certified copy of the order.  You might ask why that is necessary when the case has been tossed into the circular file?  Because there are people who take pleasure when others are arrested and they obtain and keep copies of docket sheets and arrest reports.  Those documents can be produced later and since the case will no longer exist, the only defense for the person being smeared is to produce the order of the court expunging the arrest record.

In Maryland, it costs $30.00 to file an expungement case.

Louisiana expungement fees may cost up to $450.00.

In Illinois, along with court filing fees, there is a separate fee of $60.00 to the Illinois State Police to destroy mugshots and fingerprints.

Think about that when considering the DOJ’s finding regarding Baltimore and that hundreds of individuals, mostly Black, were stopped at least 10 separate occasions from 2010-2015 and that seven were stopped more than 30 times.

race-cardWhen pursuing employment or enrollment in school for a vocation that requires licensing or certification, one cannot wait for the unlawful arrests to accumulate to have them all expunged as one case.  That means that if an individual is stopped and unlawfully arrested 3 times in one year, and they want to expunge each case upon dismissal, it will cost them $90.00 plus other costs and attorney fees, which can range as high as a thousand dollars.

Even employed people might have difficulty coming up with that amount of money to rid their background of an unlawful arrest.  Imagine the stress for those unemployed and the vicious circle where they can’t get a job with an arrest on their record – even an unlawful arrest where the case never went to trial!

The act of arresting individuals when charges are not pursued by prosecutors are not only acts of civil rights violations.  It’s like branding the individual, causing future damages that hinders their ability to pursue employment and/or education.

Systemic/institutional racism is structured into political and government institutions.  Unlawful arrests that cause perpetual damage to the future of individuals unless they can afford to clean-up the damage they did not cause, is one example of systemic racism.  While unlawful arrests also effect citizens of all races, the deliberate arrests of Blacks for misdemeanor defenses to taint their record,  is an intentional act of systemic racism that effects more than the individual, but also their families and communities.   It’s a big dose of oppression visited generation upon generation.

The Civil War resulted in giving the states the rights to pass their own laws.  Thus, how to handle arrests that do not result in trial and/or conviction is up to each state.  It makes the job for criminal justice reform harder, and larger. When discussing and instituting criminal justice reform, state legislatures must pass laws that require prosecutors to expunge cases that are dismissed or where the defendant was acquitted, at no cost to defendants.  It must be done by order of the court with a free, certified copy to defendants and it should be done immediately after the dismissal of case.

 

Posted on 08/10/2016, in civil rights, Department of Justice, politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. yahtzeebutterfly

    Xena,

    Your outstanding article here needs to be read across the country in order to enlighten people as to the effect of this form of systemic racism. Not only are Black individuals in Baltimore singled out disproportionately and, so often, unlawfully arrested multiple times, but now I see (thanks to your informative article) they are then snagged into an expensive and time consuming process to expunge their unlawful arrest record so that it will not affect their ability to land/keep a job or be accepted into an educational institution. It IS a form of oppression that keeps innocent people down.

    This needs to STOP in Baltimore as well as other places across our country. Whew, what is going on is AWFUL.

    I do appreciate that you suggested this change:

    “When discussing and instituting criminal justice reform, state legislatures must pass laws that require prosecutors to expunge cases that are dismissed or where the defendant was acquitted, at no cost to defendants. It must be done by order of the court with a free, certified copy to defendants and it should be done immediately after the dismissal of case.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yahtzee,
      I appreciate you seeing the urgency in understanding the systemic damage. There was a man who was on his job for about 15 years. Then, the employer had a lay-off. He sought other employment and answered the question on the application, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony.” He answered “no.” He was interviewed and things looked good that he would be hired. He signed the form for the company to conduct a background check.

      Well, he heard back that there was an arrest on his record and he was accused of being untruthful on his application. What had happened about 10 years earlier was his wife called the cops and he was arrested for domestic violence. The case was dismissed. (There are cops who always take at least one party to jail to purportedly prevent escalation.)

      The man never thought that arrest would keep him from obtaining employment in the future, neither than he would be wrongfully accused of lying on his application.

      Well, he did manage to get the arrest expunged, and he had never been arrested for anything else. Think that was the end to his problem? No. It took 3 months for the expungement and by that time, his unemployment benefits had ran out. With so many employers using online job applications, he was faced with trying to get gas money to go to the unemployment office or public library to use the computers there to find and apply for jobs. (He did not own a computer.) The stress in his household increased because he blamed his wife for calling the cops in the first place. He could not provide for his family, which included 3 minor children.

      One night, things got loud and the cops showed up at his front-door saying someone had called about a fight. Although he and his wife both told the police that there was nothing to worry about, the police instructed him to leave the house, and told his wife to file for a protective order. The man had no place to go, so got in his car and drove around the block then parked in front of the house.

      Well, the same cops rolled through the neighborhood again, saw him in his car, and arrested him saying he failed to comply. His wife did not go to court for a protective order, so the case was dismissed. But, it started the need for expungement all over again. (sigh)

      There is a need for empathy from the public to understand that when unlawful stop and frisks and unlawful arrests occur, that they have damaging emotional and financial effects and repercussions within households. People should ask themselves what their lives would be like if it happened to them?

      Liked by 3 people

    • I was just thinking the same thing! I read other articles yesterday &watched ten videos trying to hear more about this DOJ report.
      NOT ONE discussed the cause & effect of victims of BPD!
      NO ONE mentioned what ppl have to go through, if they’re even aware, to get these false arrests off their record.

      And as i read this, I’m imagining how many ppl lost the jobs at the time of the false arrest?
      And the whole family’s suffering becuz the money they had to waste just on getting out of jail!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shannon,
        I like the way you described it — “Cause and effect.”
        Re:

        “NO ONE mentioned what ppl have to go through, if they’re even aware, to get these false arrests off their record.”

        Most do not know until they apply for employment, or register in school to learn a vocation that requires a license or certification, or enlist in the armed forces. If they have the money and resources to prepare the paperwork, it averages about 6 months before the arrest is expunged. Six months is a long time to have your hands tied.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. At least, these DOJ reports are forcing PDs to face up to the fact that changes are going to be a fact of life and that the status quo is not acceptable. Meanwhile, how many years has it taken and the closet and non closet racists still decry the need for “Black Lives Matter.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hey Gronda. I just saw a video reporting that Police Chief has terminated some officers because of the DOJ’s findings, but I have to look for that info in a media source.

      By the way, there are bigoted racists who claim that the Black Lives Matter movement is “domestic terrorism.” They are going way overboard trying to smear the movement, when the movement is resulting in shining the light of things done in the dark that violate constitutional rights.

      Liked by 3 people

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    • yahtzeebutterfly

      This from his comment:

      “They need a finding like that so that what’s hidden in the dark come out in the light. So, I’m proud of the Attorney General for doing the investigation so people can see just what people go through sometime in the inner city.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • 8 years old??!! Omg, imagine that kid’s mother finding out some cop harrassed her kid!!!!!

      And that police officer, imagine what a total loser he is for picking on a little kid.
      It’s child abuse. It’s state violence against a little kid. Wow. Sickening.

      Like

      • Hey Shannon. Actions like that convey to parents that they have no control, no protective power over the lives of their own children. It’s the same psychological tool used when children of slaves were taken from them and sold to strangers in unknown places.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Outstanding !!!! Scary facts, but an outstanding topic. The more facts that are put out there, the more insane this country looks. In my opinion, there is nothing being done in a timely fashion (considering the Civil war ended 151 years ago) that makes a logical person see any form of equality………..nothing.

    The cartoon posted is frighteningly accurate and sad to say, up to date.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hey Racer! (Also a combined response to one of Yahtzee’s comments.) I’ve watched so many videos and read so much today about the DOJ’s report, that I can’t remember where I read/heard it, but someone used the phrase “trap doors.” People of color have been falling through them for a long time, and those who have not don’t want to believe that they exist. Expungement of dismissed cases from arrest background checks is a trap door. And, it might be difficult for some to accept, but the need for a Bachelor’s degree to get a job that used to require only a high school diploma, is another trap door.

      All trap doors are designed to discriminate against the most vulnerable and to hold them hostage until they can pay ransom.

      You might remember that during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King encouraged people of color to get a high school education. Blacks did. Then the bar was raised. We now have an America where young people of all races are in debt for student loans because of the trap door originally designed to disqualify people of color from decent paying jobs.

      And, now add the trap door of expungements.

      Along with police chiefs and community organizers meeting to discuss reform, some state legislators should also attend. They must start writing laws that are not ambiguous, and that holds government entities responsible for cleaning up their mistakes and messes. No one — absolutely no one, should be required to pay one penny to expunge an arrest from their record that never should have happened.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 2 people

  8. yahtzeebutterfly

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  10. This is like a runaway train in my opinion. It’s totally scaring the hell out of me. My son and daughter-in-law asked me to watch a movie with then one night not long ago. It was called the “Purge” This world right now concerning #BlackLivesMatter reminds me of that movie. If you haven’t seen it, watch it some day…..Maybe you’ll see my point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Shyloh! Funny you should mention that movie. About a month ago, I had a vision that I shared with my son. He saw the preview of The Purge – Election Year, and said it sounded much like the vision I had. The Purge sounds very much like a horror movie, and the closest I get to horror movies is the Twilight Saga. LOL! I’ll stay vigilant and sensitive to the spiritual realm and if there’s confirmation of the vision, trust that God has safe places and will prepare those called for His purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. These “failure to obey” arrests REALLY FREAK ME OUT!
    Some kid didn’t get a new bike or video game becuz when their parent tried exercising their right to dignity, they were manhandled by some sniveling butthurt power thirsty police officer & then thrown in a cage for “contempt of cop”!
    Now dad has to use Jr’s bike money for bail, court fees, fines, etc., just so he could get back to his own bed!

    The BPD needs to be stopped!
    And victims need to be compensated for the costs they incurred, not to mention any physical pain & humiliation caused by being assaulted &kidnapped by cops with gun muscles!

    But just as important ppl NEED JUSTICE!
    Every cop need to be held accountable for each & every act of abuse of authority they visited on individuals they’re supposed to be SERVING!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: DOJ Report on Baltimore Police Department. How Unlawful Arrests Are Damaging. | We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident | AGR Daily News Service

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