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City solicitor: Baltimore police turning over final documents in DOJ investigation

Baltimore's top lawyer said Wednesday the city is in the process of turning over the final documents to the Department of Justice as it nears the end of a civil rights investigation into the pattern and practices of the Baltimore Police Department.

City Solicitor George Nilson said city officials have provided more than four years of documents to federal investigators, who are examining allegations of excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, and unlawful stops, searches or arrests.

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"We're in regular communication with them as we conclude the process of providing them with all the materials they've asked for," Nilson said. "Essentially, the production stage is now over. They are sorting and digesting."

Nilson said he expected the investigators would need at least another month before issuing a report.

"They've asked for everything. Emails, documents, policies, stop tickets — every conceivable law enforcement document you can imagine for the last four or five years," Nilson said.

The federal intervention started in 2014, just days after The Baltimore Sun reported that the city in recent years had spent millions on court judgments and settlements in 102 lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct.

The Justice Department expanded its review into a full civil rights investigation in 2015 after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray, whose death sparked widespread protests and two nights of looting and violence. One of the six officers charged in connection with his arrest and death is on trial now.

While a previous federal investigation into the police department in Ferguson, Mo., uncovered racist emails, Nilson said he did not expect to see such findings in Baltimore.

"I'm not expecting to see that," he said, but noted there are nearly 4,000 police department employees. "That's a big force. Any group of that size you're going to find awkward and embarrassing emails. I'm not expecting a racist trail through the police department."

It's still unclear how much the federal investigation will cost taxpayers. Most cities estimate the costs of complying with consent decrees can cost about a $1 million a year — though some are much more expensive — according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy organization.

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