When the Department of Justice issued its report on the findings of their investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department last summer, it stated unequivocally that the Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or Federal Law.”
What followed after that report was a series of negotiations between the DOJ and Baltimore City Police that resulted in a consent decree that outlined the ways in which the police could address the problems identified in the report.
The consent decree was announced on January 12th, just a week before the Trump Administration assumed power. It called for, among other things, the creation of a Community Oversight Task Force, new procedures for stops, searches and arrests, new directives concerning use of force, and enhanced training for officers. A judge was appointed to approve and oversee the implementation of the consent decree.
Last week, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar held a hearing at the federal courthouse in Baltimore. Judge Bredar must sign the consent decree in order for it to be in effect. He asked the parties involved, including Mayor Catherine Pugh, about various aspects of the deal, to determine whether or not it is feasible. Signing the consent decree is one thing. Repairing the damage done to the relationship between citizens and the police is quite another. But the consent decree is seen by many to be an important first step in fixing the distrust that exists between the police and in particular, communities of color here in Charm City.
Today, an update on where things stand so far in this lengthy and complex process. Tom's guests today in Studio A are Ganesha Martin, Chief of the Baltimore Police Department of Justice Compliance and Accountability. Ray Kelly is a community organizer, an advocate, an activist and the Co-director of the No Boundaries Coalition of Central West Baltimore. Kevin Rector covers, among other things, crime and the courts for the Baltimore Sun. We invited the Dept. of Justice to participate in our conversation today and they declined that invitation. We also reached out several times to the Fraternal Order of Police, who did not respond.