Consent decree monitoring team taking feedback on drafts of BPD policies

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Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr

The Baltimore Police Department is taking public input on drafts of policies that have been mandated by a federal consent decree.

Today is the last day to submit feedback on a draft of a policy regarding patrol staffing shortages.

Members of the public can also submit feedback now until Nov. 2 on a draft of a policy regarding BPD officers’ duty to intervene to prevent or stop another officer’s misconduct and other problematic behavior.

Later this month, BPD will open up other policy drafts to public input, including policies regarding stops, searches, and arrests; training; youth interactions; deadly force; and more.

The Consent Decree Monitoring Team on Sept. 30 released its first comprehensive re-assessment of BPD’s compliance with the consent decree that the city and the United States Department of Justice entered into in 2017 following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

In the report, the team said that the consent decree is “working as designed” and that BPD is making “substantial progress.”

The team praised the police department’s response to protests in the wake of the police killings of Minnesota man George Floyd and others.

The report also found that BPD is conducting effective in-class and online training on use of force; impartial policing; stops, searches and arrests; body-worn camera use; and sexual assault response. The department has also added staff members and moved to more modern facilities at the University of Baltimore to uphold the training.

The monitoring team found that improvements to BPD’s “antiquated IT systems and historically deficient IT governance structures” are progressing but are still at least a year from being completed, which is limiting the department’s ability to analyze police conduct.

BPD’s Community Policing Plan, which the department published in April, envisions that officers will spend about 60 percent of their time on service calls and about 40 percent of their time on proactive community policing, such as formal and informal community engagement.

However, the monitoring team said BPD’s “appropriately ambitious” community policing plan will face “profound” challenges, including community members’ mistrust of Baltimore police, violent crime rates, and officer shortages.

“Right now, it is far from clear that BPD will be able to achieve such transformation,” the team wrote in their report.

Even before the pandemic, the police department did not finish developing the plan on time. Now that has been completed, the plan is “sound” and “provides a good foundation for achieving Consent Decree compliance,” the monitoring team wrote.

But they added that it will need to be reevaluated and updated on an ongoing basis.

In particular, the team noted that Baltimore City must enhance its behavioral health system to improve BPD’s response to individuals in crisis. They also suggested that community policing could tap into the city’s resources–not just the police–for a “more holistic approach.”

The team said that although the consent decree-mandated reforms are taking shape and demonstrating BPD’s ability to change, those reforms “have not yet translated into widespread changes in officer conduct” and do not yet mean that the consent decree ultimately will succeed.

Marcus Dieterle


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