October 4, 2022

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Justice Department and Baltimore Police Department Provide Progress Report Five Years After Consent Decree

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Justice Department Praised Baltimore Reform Efforts and Noted Significant Work Remaining to Reach Compliance

The Justice Department today joined the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the Court-appointed independent monitoring team to report on the City’s and BPD’s progress toward compliance with the terms of the consent decree designed to ensure effective and constitutional policing in the City.

At today’s public hearing before U.S District Court Chief Judge James K. Bredar, the Justice Department recognized the significant accomplishments that have been achieved including:

  • adoption of a problem-oriented approach to policing, prioritizing public safety, crime reduction and lawful patrol and enforcement efforts;
  • adoption of a wide range of new policies covering use of force, transport, impartial policing and stops, searches and arrests, that provide clear guidance to officers to ensure effective and constitutional policing;
  • revitalization of the training academy, including upgraded facilities, expanded staff and revamped in-service training curricula, including new trainings developed to educate officers on the revised policies;
  • revitalization of the internal affairs unit, including expanded staff and new procedures and training to ensure fair and thorough investigations of alleged misconduct and consistent discipline when misconduct takes place;
  • creation of auditing procedures to ensure proper supervisory review of use-of-force incidents, scrutiny of arrests that do not result in charges filed against the arrestee, and the use of safe practices in the transportation of individuals in custody; and
  • procurement of a new records management system to ensure accurate and consistent incident reporting and case management throughout BPD.

The Justice Department noted that to fully comply with the decree, BPD must show that its officers are consistently and effectively following the new policies and trainings and being held accountable if they do not. In the coming months, the independent monitoring team will conduct detailed assessments of BPD’s compliance with the decree’s requirements regarding the use of force, arrests and sexual assault investigations. These assessments will provide a roadmap for BPD’s continuing efforts to achieve full compliance in these areas.

“The problems at BPD were many years in the making and we are pleased with the progress that has been made since the consent decree was put in place,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “While much work remains, we believe that a strong foundation has been laid to achieve effective and constitutional policing in Baltimore. The citizens of Baltimore deserve nothing less.”

The Justice Department initiated an investigation of BPD in May 2015 under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law authorizes the Attorney General to file a lawsuit to address a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of their rights under the Constitution or federal law. The investigation was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section, and findings were announced in August 2016. The consent decree was approved by the Court in April 2017.

The findings report and consent decree, as well as additional information about the Civil Rights Division, are available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. Additional information about implementation of the consent decree is also available on the BPD website at www.baltimorepolice.org and the monitoring team’s website at www.bpdmonitor.com. The department welcomes comments or concerns from the community via email at Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov.

View the consent decree here.

View the consent decree fact sheet here.

View the findings report here.

View the findings summary here.

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