Attorney General Loretta Lynch has decided that problems with policing in Baltimore run deep enough to warrant a full-scale Justice Department civil rights investigation. She officially announced the probe at a DC press conference this morning, per the Guardian; sources had informed the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post of her intentions before the presser. "Recent events, including the tragic death in custody of Freddie Gray, have given rise to a serious erosion of public trust," Lynch said at the press conference, per the Guardian. After Lynch visited the city earlier this week and met with the family of Freddie Gray, she said she started considering a federal investigation even though Baltimore had made "significant strides" in a voluntary review of use of force.
That review began last October, after the Sun reported that Baltimore had paid $5.7 million in 102 court judgments over alleged police misconduct since 2011. Lynch said that "none of us have any illusions that reform is easy" and that "change will not come overnight" from the investigation, which is effective immediately, per MSNBC. She added at the press conference that the police union supports her investigation, CNN notes; Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said yesterday that he wouldn't object to an outside investigation, the New York Times reports. "I am willing to do anything it takes to win that trust back," he said. The investigation, one of 20 such DOJ investigations of various police departments in the last six years, could lead to years of court monitoring, the Sun notes. This DOJ probe is separate from its inquiry into Gray's death.