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Probe launched on Baltimore police

Published 08/05/2015

The death of Freddie Gray sparked huge protests in Baltimore. (AP)
The death of Freddie Gray sparked huge protests in Baltimore. (AP)

The US attorney general has announced a Justice Department investigation into Baltimore police department.

Loretta Lynch made the announcement several days after she visited the city and met the mayor and other city and community leaders.

The investigation will look for unconstitutional policing practices in the city, such as patterns of excessive force or improper stops and searches.

Federal authorities are conducting a separate investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died last month after suffering grave injuries.

The death set off riots in the city and Baltimore's senior prosecutor has brought charges against six police officers.

Baltimore city officials last autumn requested a voluntary Justice Department review of the police force. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake this week requested a full civil rights investigation.

Ms Rawlings-Blake had initially appeared determined to fix the city's problems on her own but then on Wednesday requested a Justice Department investigation.

Soured relations between the police and the communities they serve is "one of the most challenging issues of our time", Ms Lynch said in announcing the investigation, adding that there has been "a serious erosion of public trust".

"Ultimately, this process is meant to ensure that officers are being provided with the tools they need - including training, policy guidance and equipment - to be more effective, to partner with civilians, and to strengthen public safety," Ms Lynch said.

Baltimore suffered days of unrest after Mr Gray died on April 19 following a week in a coma after his arrest. Protesters threw bottles and bricks at police the night of his funeral on April 27, injuring nearly 100 officers. More than 200 people were arrested as cars and businesses burned.

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