Actus Reus

ac·tus re·us \ˈak-təs-ˈrē-əs, ˈäk-tu̇s-ˈrā-u̇s\

noun : the wrongful act that makes up the physical action of a crime

Latin: guilty act

DOJ Finds that Baltimore Police Department Has Pattern or Practice of Unconstitutional Conduct

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice wrapped up its lengthy investigation of the Baltimore Police Department by releasing a report on August 10, 2016, which excoriated the BPD for engaging in a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional conduct. The misconduct includes excessive force; retaliation; unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; and law enforcement strategies that created “severe and unjustified disparities” in the rates of African Americans subjected to stops, searches, and arrests.

The report, which is 164 pages, can be found . Among its highlights are finding that the BPD:

  • “prioritized officers making large numbers of stops, searches, and arrests—and often resorting to force—with minimal training and insufficient oversight from supervisors or through other accountability structures”;
  • concentrates its stops and searches in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, and those stops are frequently not justified by reasonable suspicion or probable cause;
  • “often violate[s] the Constitution” when stopping and searching African-American residents, and finds evidence of criminal activity in only one out of every 27 stops;
  • regularly strip-searches residents in public and without justification;
  • engages in widespread discrimination against African Americans;
  • uses a policing strategy that “by its design” results in targeted enforcement against African-Americans;
  • fails to hold officers accountable for using racial slurs or exhibiting racial bias;
  • uses excessive force against children and people with mental disabilities or mental health problems;
  • virtually never holds its officers accountable for excessive force; and
  • “lacks meaningful accountability systems to deter misconduct.”

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