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More than 20,000 people were illegally arrested by the Baltimore City Police Department last year, according to a class action filed June 15 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and D.C.-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “These unconstitutional and illegal acts degrade, humiliate and cause grave harm to their victims,” says the complaint, which was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court and names as defendants current and former police commissioners and several city and state officials. The suit alleges that it is Police Department policy to reward officers who make large numbers of arrests while punishing those with fewer arrests, regardless of whether the arrests result in charges or successful prosecutions. As a result, the suit claims, in 30 percent of arrests, charges are dropped before the person charged is able to appear in court. Gibson, Dunn associate Daniel Cantu, who is handling the suit pro bono, says the firm got involved at the request of the ACLU.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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