AG: Baltimore is a city that will do the hard work needed to make consent decree a reality
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Mayor Catherine Pugh was joined by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General/head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta and Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Thursday morning to announce an agreement on the Department of Justice (DOJ) Consent Decree concerning Baltimore Police reform.
Thanking the mayor and police commissioner for their cooperation throughout the process, Attorney General Lynch said the dedication to reform from both parties had been "outstanding"
"I know that Baltimore is a city that will do the hard work needed to make this consent decree a reality," she said.
The DOJ investigation began in May 2015.
Through meetings with city leaders and members of the community Lynch said three main issues emerged: (1) to assure effective and constitutional policing (2) to restore the community's trust and (3) to advance public/officer safety. DOJ's report, released in August, stated that it found reasonable cause to believe that the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) “engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.”
The next step will be the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the process of reform and report back to a judge.
The monitor's reports will be open and accessible to the public, Assistant Attorney General Gupta noted.
"To inform the public about BPD’s implementation of the Consent Agreement, BPD shall develop a community outreach and public information program about the Agreement in each District. The program shall include at least two meetings per year in each District that is Case 1:17-cv-00099-JKB Document 2-2 Filed 01/12/17 Page 13 of 227 9 open to the public. During the meetings, BPD will inform the public about the requirements of this Agreement, update the public on BPD’s progress meeting these requirements, and address areas of community concern. At least one week before such meetings, BPD will widely publicize the meetings." -CONSENT DECREE
"We listened to what community members, police officers, union leaders had to say," Gupta said of the investigation. "We then spent months negotiating the agreement."
She thanked Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis for their cooperation and their "incredibly intense focus" on the reforms.
"Real and lasting reform is not going to happen overnight," Gupta remarked. "It's going to happen over time"
Noting that the BPD has already started the process of reform, Commissioner Davis said he is looking forward to working with the DOJ on continued improvements.
"The City and BPD have already begun the critical work of reform, and this Agreement is designed to build on the work that has already been done. BPD has already made meaningful changes to numerous policies; provided additional training; supplied officers with new equipment, including beginning implementation of body-worn cameras; committed additional resources to its community outreach efforts, particularly with Youth; and invested in additional technology and infrastructure. While the Parties recognize this progress, they also recognize that much work remains, including in those areas where reform has already begun." - CONSENT DECREE
"When we emerge from this, we will be better crime fighters and it will benefit our cops on the street and our community," he said.
Davis will invite officers to have a conversation with him on Friday about the consent decree and what it will mean.
The issues addressed in the consent decree (full text below) include: Community policing and engagement; stops, searches, arrests and voluntary police-community interactions; impartial policing; responding to and interacting with people with behavioral health disabilities or in crisis; use of force; interactions with youth; transportation of persons in custody; First Amendment protected activities; handling of reports of sexual assault; technology; supervision; misconduct investigations and discipline; coordination with Baltimore City School police force; recruitment, hiring and retention; staffing, performance evaluations and promotions; officer assistance and support; agreement implementation and enforcement.
[APP users: CLICK HERE to read the full decree]