Public Asked to Chime in on Police Consent Decree Monitor Applications

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Photo via Mayor’s Office

The applications are in for the position of independent consent decree monitor, which will oversee wide-reaching, court-ordered police reform in the city. Now, officials need the public’s help in combing through the pile.

Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office published all 26 applications online today. Each one is lengthy and lays out the team’s mission, members, budget, data and other details to substantiate why they should be put in charge of monitoring police reform in Baltimore City. Most of the applicants consist of around a dozen members, many with former judges, law enforcement officials, lawyers, data experts, academics, psychologists and business leaders on their rosters.

The independent monitor position was created to provide technical assistance to police and keep tabs on ongoing efforts to clean up a department widely rebuked after a Department of Justice-led civil rights investigation. Former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for the probe after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the ensuing unrest that engulfed parts of the city in spring 2015.

In its investigative report released last summer, the DOJ identified patterns of discriminatory policing strategies, unconstitutional stop and seizures of suspects, mishandling of sexual assault cases and other major issues. The consent decree, devised over the fall and winter months by city and DOJ attorneys and signed by a judge in April, was crafted to fix those problems under court order.

There’s a lot to sort through in each application, but here are a few randomly picked examples just to give you an idea:

  • New Jersey-based ADP Consulting, led by a retired police major who’s worked with three previous consent decrees in other cities, and 10 other team members with experience in law enforcement or research, lawyering and politics.
  • The Baltimore Monitor Project, with two former judges leading a nine-person team of attorneys, data experts and academics.
  • Loyola University Maryland, with two organizational psychology experts, a sociologist, a psychologist, a former judge, two of his legal associates and law enforcement experts.
  • Susan Burke, which sounds like just one person – a tenured Baltimore City litigator for whom it’s named – but is really 12 people, including (again) lawyers, law enforcement professionals and data and investigative technique experts.
  • Harrisburg, Pa-based EbevyYG Learning Solutions, a professional services firm focused on policing, led by a former police training specialist.
  • Baker, Baxter, with two former police chiefs in charge of a team of lawyers, academics, business people and assistants pulled from local nonprofit Civic Works.

All 26 teams had to submit a detailed application laying out how they would oversee reform in the department over the next three to five years, along with a general schedule of deadlines, their plans to communicate assessments and proposed changes to police and U.S. Justice Department officials and to regularly share findings with the public, among other requirements.

Each team also had to promise to keep its budget under $1.475 million per year for at least three years. Most submitted budgets neared that cap, meaning it’s likely the monitoring effort will cost $4 million at a minimum.

Under the terms of the decree, Pugh’s office was required to share all monitor applications online. The public has until July 17 to submit comments and recommendations, after which the city will narrow the pool down to a set of finalists that the public can again weigh in on.

Comments and recommendations can be sent to [email protected] or by snail mail to Puneet Cheema, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20530.

Ethan McLeod
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