Report Puts O’Malley on Defense Over Policing

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, working to rehabilitate his political image after an unsuccessful presidential run, now faces renewed scrutiny with the Justice Department’s blistering assessment of his policing strategy as mayor of Baltimore.

O’Malley, a Democrat who served as Baltimore’s mayor from the end of 1999 to early 2007, has long faced criticism for embracing so-called zero-tolerance policing in the city. In the report unveiled Wednesday, Justice Department investigators document those concerns in sharp relief — and find the controversial approach was never fully abandoned.

The attention on the report has put O’Malley in the position of defending a 16-year-old strategy just as he was starting to climb back into the spotlight after finishing a distant third in the Iowa Democratic caucus and dropping out of the presidential race.

It has also put O’Malley at odds with the politics of the moment, in which a great majority of Democrats and many Republicans are worried about high levels of incarceration caused in part by arrests for low-level drug crimes.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said Thursday that the Justice Department report underscores the need for federal action to overhaul local law enforcement. Her campaign has called for a greater emphasis on community policing and ensuring enforcement is focused on violent criminals.