Baltimore, DOJ Reach Police Reform Agreement

The Justice Department and the city of Baltimore signed a historic consent decree on Thursday, just days before the Trump Administration and a new attorney general take office.

The 227-page agreement which is pending federal approval by Judge James K. Bredar , is in response to the Justice Department’s August 2016 investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. In the probe’s findings, investigators noted violations of constitutional rights and civil rights by the police officers who themselves were first hand witnesses. It also showed indifference by officers toward Black citizens in brazen car stops. Those who read the report called it “damning.”

Negotiations on how to remedy these issues began in October of 2014 and have been ongoing. Fifteen specific reforms are outlined in the report’s 121 pages. The major competent of the reform recommendations include training, equipment, oversight and measuring outcomes. Those who went through negotiations said it was about “restoring confidence in the police” and communities. The first part of its implementation will be the selection of independent monitor who will enforce the measures in the decree, and establish measurable goals.

“It will empower communities…it will live on because of court enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

At the same time Mayor Catherine Pugh called for a collaborative effort from all parties, “I’m not interested in what it cost but what it accomplishes.” But she also cautioned those watching the process against looking for a quick solution. “This is not an overnight process,” she said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings whose House district in Baltimore was caught up in the social unrest following the death of Freddie Gray said, “This is a gift that will keep on giving.”