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Justice Department sets up system for complaints about Baltimore police

A Department of Justice official speaks during a meeting at the University of Baltimore's John and Frances Angelos Law Center that is part of its investigation of the city's police department.
A Department of Justice official speaks during a meeting at the University of Baltimore's John and Frances Angelos Law Center that is part of its investigation of the city's police department. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

To obtain information about alleged misconduct by Baltimore police, the U.S. Department of Justice has established a dedicated email account and phone number.

Justice Department investigators and lawyers will use the information for the agency's civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. In "pattern or practice" probes, investigators look for constitutional violations such as use of force, illegal stops, searches and arrests, and other signs of discriminatory policing.

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Residents can send information to Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov or call 1-844-401-3733. Officials ask callers to speak slowly and, if possible, to leave two telephone numbers where they can be reached. At a community meeting Thursday night, top Justice Department officials pledged to follow up with every call or email and to keep the information confidential.

Besides seeking details from the public, federal attorneys plan to examine police policies and procedures, misconduct claims, brutality allegations and excessive-force complaints, including those that have resulted in injury or death.

The federal investigation was begun after the death of Freddie Gray; he was arrested in West Baltimore and sustained a spinal injury while traveling in a police van. Six officers face criminal charges related to his arrest and transport.

Activists have called for years for a probe that puts the weight of the law behind the findings. The investigation, which is expected to take more than a year to complete, could lead to a consent decree and years of oversight by the federal government.

About 200 people gathered Thursday to hear Justice Department officials outline how the investigation will be conducted. Many people had private meetings to provide details to investigators.

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