BALTIMORE— Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that she plans to have police body cameras in use by the end of the year and to have the Justice Department review whether the city's Police Department has a pattern of excessive force.
Also Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted Baltimore's state of emergency, which was imposed April 27 after violence erupted in the city after Freddie Gray's funeral.
At her Wednesday press conference, Rawlings-Blake ticked off a number of changes that she said her administration has already made at the Police Department. But she promised that more will be done, noting that there is "still a fractured relationship between the police and the community."
"We have to get it right," the mayor said. "Failure is not an option."
She said she has asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the Police Department's practices to determine whether there is excessive force used in stops, searches and arrests. The review is similar to one done in Ferguson, Missouri, after a police brutality case there.
After the investigation, Rawlings-Blake said, she plans to "hold those accountable if changes are not made."
"I am determined not to allow a small handful of bad actors to tarnish the reputation of the overwhelming majority of police officers who are acting with honor and distinction," she wrote in a letter to the new U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch.
The mayor's announcement came the day after her closed-door meeting at City Hall with Lynch, who pledged to improve the Police Department and told faith and community leaders that "we're here to hold your hands and provide support."
Lynch has received the mayor's request and is considering it, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said Wednesday.
"I think that's probably a step in the right direction," Gov. Hogan said.
The city's police union and City Council president also welcomed the development.
A key figure who didn't immediately respond was Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, brought in from Oakland, California, by the mayor 2 1/2 years ago to reform the department.
The mayor's request could put Batts' leadership under a microscope.
The mayor called the last week of protests and riots in the wake of Gray's death "some of the darkest" the city has ever seen. But she also pointed to the resilience that residents had shown. "We will need that resilience to continue as we reform the Police Department," she said.
At another press conference, Hogan said that 3,000 National Guardsmen were activated in the city last week.
He said they were on the ground within three hours — far faster than the typical eight hours it takes to get them.
Hogan said he saw "devastation and destruction" after riots and protests, but he also described seeing "incredible acts of kindness" and a "community that cares about each other."
Six police officers face charges in connection with Gray's death.
Baltimore has already been participating in a voluntary Justice Department review, requested by Rawlings-Blake and Batts last fall. It would enable police to implement reforms without a court order or independent monitor.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
St. Louis mayor signs police oversight measure
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signed into law Wednesday a measure establishing a civilian oversight board to review complaints against police.
The bill officially becomes law June 5. Slay, who took the unusual step of being a co-sponsor of the bill, is expected to nominate the seven members of the board by Aug. 5. They must be confirmed by the city's aldermen.
The board will have the power to make recommendations but will not have disciplinary authority. It will review evidence and witness statements from police internal affairs investigations, then report its findings to the public safety director and police chief.
The board will have oversight in the city only, not in Ferguson or any other suburb.— The Associated Press