U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch met with political and law enforcement leaders in Baltimore on Tuesday following the recent unrest over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Gray died last month of injuries allegedly suffered in police custody, and his death triggered days of protests in the streets of Baltimore. Six police officers have been criminally charged in his death.
On Tuesday, Lynch said it was inspiring to see people come together to reclaim the city after days of riots and protests. “This is a flash-point situation,” Lynch told the group, which included an attorney for Gray’s family. “We lost a young man’s life, and it begins to represent so many things.”
Lynch and several of her top aides talked with members of Congress and faith and community leaders Tuesday, as well as elected city and law enforcement officials. Lynch also met behind closed doors with members of Gray’s family.
Lynch pledged that the Justice Department would give assistance to Baltimore, including helping the city find ways to improve its police department. “We’re here to hold your hands and provide support,” Lynch said.
Lynch was sworn in as the 83rd attorney general April 27, in a ceremony that took place at the same time as Gray’s funeral. She is the first African American woman to serve as the country’s top law enforcement official.
Also Tuesday, legislative leaders in Annapolis announced that a work group has been formed to study police practices and police-community relations throughout the state.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the panel will review police training, recruiting and hiring practices, community policing policies and the state’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which, among other things, gives officers 10 days to prepare before cooperating with an investigation.
The panel will be chaired by Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore), who has worked for years on criminal justice reform, and Sen. Catherine E. Pugh (D-Baltimore), who was a prominent figure on the streets of Baltimore in the days after the unrest.
Del. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore), who will serve on the panel, predicted after Gray’s death that state officials would take steps to address concerns about police conduct.
“I think it is now on the governor’s radar,” Carter said before Gray’s funeral. “The culture of policing needs to be changed across the state and across the country.”