City residents will have two chances to chime in next week about who will make the best overseer of court-ordered police reform in Baltimore for the next few years.
The U.S. Department of Justice, city officials and Baltimore police are holding community forums on back-to-back days next week to get public input on their four consent decree monitor finalists. Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration announced 26 applicants for the job in June. Each one included about a dozen members, many with former judges, former police officials, attorneys, data experts, academics, psychologists and business leaders, among others.
From there, the city, DOJ and Baltimore Police Department narrowed down their pool to six, and then this week to four finalists. The shortlist includes CNA Consulting, Exiger, Powers Consulting Group and Venable LLP.
The community hearings are set for Tuesday, Aug. 15, from 6-8 p.m. at the Baltimore City Community College’s Fine Arts Auditorium, and Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 6-8 p.m. at Ballroom C of Morgan State University’s Student Center. After hearing from the citizenry, officials will recommend one or two finalists to the U.S. District Court of Maryland during the week of Aug. 21.
Whichever team gets the nod will oversee the Baltimore Police Department’s efforts to fix deeply rooted problem identified in a federal investigation last year, including officers’ habitual use of excessive force and unconstitutional stops and seizures, and their focus on hitting statistical benchmarks for arrests.
The monitoring will take three to five years, the city says. Each finalist had to submit a general schedule of deadlines and their plans to communicate assessments and proposed changes to police and U.S. Justice Department officials, as well as explain how they will regularly share findings with the public, among other requirements. All of their applications are posted for your reading pleasure online here.
Most teams set their annual budgets at or around the cap of $1.475 million, meaning the monitoring will cost at least $4.4 million or so over the next three years, and possibly more if the task requires additional time.
The deadline already passed for the public to submit written comments to the city and DOJ about the finalists, all of which are now posted online in a 168-page document here. However, the city and the feds are still taking questions for the community forums through Sunday, Aug. 13. Feel free to send those to Baltimore.Consent.Decree@usdoj.gov or send them by snail mail to: Puneet Cheema, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 20530.
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