Live: DOJ/Baltimore City announce consent decree

Live: DOJ/Baltimore City announce consent decree

Top Baltimore officials voted unanimously Thursday to approve spending city money on police reforms agreed to under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.

    BREAKING DOCUMENT: Here is proposed @TheJusticeDept & Baltimore consent decree agreement on @BaltimorePolice reform:…

    Here is the 227-page consent decree agreement that's been filed for review by a federal judge:

    In joint motion filing consent decree agreement, Baltimore and DOJ ask court to accept written submissions and hold public hearing.
    Congressman Cummings talks about the tragic fire that killed 6 children

  • "In Baltimore, in many ways, this is a great day," @MayorPugh50 says of police reform. Calls negotiations "very focused."

    "I believe that this document represents the citizens of Baltimore well," @MayorPugh50 says. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be standing here."
    "In Baltimore, in many ways, this is a great day," @MayorPugh50 says of police reform. Calls negotiations "very foc……

    "For me this was not about cost. This was about fairness and understanding," Pugh says of police agreement

    Outgoing Attorney General Lynch notes she was sworn in on day of Freddie Gray's funeral; first trip as AG was to Baltimore
    Pugh says focus of police reform is: "Training. Training. Training. Training."

    "For me this was not about cost. This was about fairness and understanding," Pugh says of police agreement

    Pugh says focus of police reform is: "Training. Training. Training. Training."

    Lynch: "The Baltimore Police Department engaged in a pattern and practice that violated the constitution."

    AG Lynch: "Through this agreement we are moving forward together to work to heal tension and the relationship between BPD and the community"
    AG @LorettaLynch says Baltimore consent decree "robust" & "comprehensive," but "no illusions that change is easy or...comes about overnight"
    Lynch: "We have no illusions that change is easy or that it comes about overnight. Will require sustained efforts from all parties."
    Lynch says she's "confident" the consent decree will result in meaningful police reform
    .@CommishKDavis : "Baltimore has been prepared for this moment for the last year and a half," helping DOJ to investigate, fashion agreement
    Davis says officers will benefit from the agreement with increased technology, training, accountability

    Davis says "the cops on the street will absolutely benefit from this consent decree."

    Baltimore @CommishKDavis says rank-and-file officers will "absolutely benefit as much as any other group of people" from DOJ consent decree
    Davis says "of course" crime fight & reform can exist at the same time."We will be better crime fighters w better relationships w community"
    Watch a live stream of the DOJ Baltimore City Police consent decree announcement:…

    DOJ: "BPD immediately began making improvements... I know the Baltimore Police Department can be a model for the nation."

    Cummings says consent decree is a "gift that will hopefully keep on giving."

    Independent monitor will play big role in this consent decree process. DOJ/city will try to pick together,but judge picks if they cant agree
    The selected monitor will be appointed to 3 year term; pay capped at $1 .47 million per year
    Reform effort coming as Baltimore also experiencing spiking violence. Cities targeted for reform "see positive results in crime," Lynch says
    From the Department of Justice: 
    Under the consent decree, the city of Baltimore and BPD will implement comprehensive reforms that will ensure that:
    ·         Baltimore establishes a Community Oversight Task Force to recommend reforms to the current system of civilian oversight. 
    ·         BPD adopts a policing approach that is community-oriented and based on problem solving principles.
    ·         Officers’ voluntary interactions are professional and courteous, and officers conduct all investigatory stops, searches and arrests in a manner that protects people’s rights.
    ·         BPD provides equal protection of the law for all individuals, including providing impartial policing services.
    ·         Officers use appropriate de-escalation techniques and attempt to resolve incidents without force when possible; use force in a manner that is proportional to the threat presented; and BPD’s use of force policies, training and review systems provide sufficient guidance, skills and accountability.
    ·         BPD transports detainees in a manner that keeps them safe.
    ·         Officers respect the First Amendment rights of all persons.
    ·         BPD investigates sexual assault thoroughly and without gender bias.
    ·         Baltimore conducts an assessment to minimize youth involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems, as appropriate, and that officers approach interactions with youth in a manner appropriate to their age.
    ·         Baltimore conducts an analysis of gaps in the city’s mental health system in consultation with a committee of behavioral health experts and service providers, and BPD instructs and dispatches officers who are properly trained in interacting with people in crisis or with behavioral health disabilities when a police response is appropriate.
    ·         Allegations of employee misconduct are fully, fairly and efficiently investigated; that all investigative findings are supported by the appropriate standard of proof and documented in writing; and that all officers who commit misconduct are held accountable pursuant to a disciplinary system that is fair, consistent and provides due process.
    ·         Officers receive necessary equipment, policy guidance, training and support to do their jobs safely and effectively, and BPD performs a staffing study to ensure a sufficient number of officers and supervisors.
    "This agreement is binding and will live on," Lynch says when asked if Trump administration could undo
    Remarks from head of DOJ Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta: 

    Good morning, and thank you, Attorney General [Loretta E.] Lynch.  I’d like to also thank Mayor [Catherine] Pugh and Commissioner [Kevin] Davis – for their cooperation and leadership throughout this process, and for their clear commitment to reform the Baltimore City Police Department.  I want to thank the people of Baltimore, including the city’s police officers, for their commitment to this process and for the hard work they do every day to ensure public safety.  And I want to thank my team from the Civil Rights Division for their outstanding work on this case.
                Last August, the Justice Department announced the findings of our investigation.  We described a series of systemic violations: unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests; discriminatory policing; excessive force; and retaliation against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression.  These practices eroded trust.  And they put the lives of officers and residents at greater risk.
                We also pledged in August that we would work together with the city and BPD to identify the reforms necessary to fix the problems we found, and include those reforms in a court-enforceable, independently-monitored consent decree.  We listened to what community members, police officers and union leaders had to say.  We read carefully the many thoughtful written submissions we received.  I want to thank all the stakeholders who shared their ideas with us.  We then spent months negotiating the agreement we are here to announce today.
                As the Attorney General just said, the robust agreement we are announcing includes a range of reforms designed to advance constitutional policing, restore community trust and promote officer and public safety.  Under the consent decree, the city and BPD will implement comprehensive reforms to end the legacy of Baltimore’s “zero tolerance” policing.  In its place, BPD will empower its officers to engage in proactive, community-oriented policing.  Through improved policies, training and oversight, the city and BPD will:
    ·         Ensure that officers conduct stops, searches and arrests in a manner that complies with the law and promotes public safety.
    ·         Ensure that officers use appropriate de-escalation techniques and attempt to resolve incidents without force when possible; and use force in a manner that is proportional to the threat presented.
    ·         Transport detainees in a manner that keeps them safe.
    ·         Ensure that officers investigate sexual assault thoroughly and without gender bias.
    ·         They will dispatch officers who are properly trained in interacting with people in crisis or with behavioral health disabilities when a police response is appropriate.
    ·         Ensure that allegations of officer misconduct are fully, fairly and efficiently investigated; and ensure that the disciplinary system is fair, consistent and provides due process.
    In addition, the city and BPD will:
    ·         Establish a Community Oversight Task Force to recommend reforms to the current system of civilian oversight.
    ·         Ensure that officers receive the equipment, technological upgrades, guidance and support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively; and that BPD performs a staffing study to ensure a sufficient number of officers and supervisors.
                Going forward, we will need the ongoing support and engagement of this entire community – from officers, to residents, to city officials.  This is your city.  And this is your police department.  As I said back in August, real and lasting reform won’t happen overnight.  It will happen over time, as we work together to change cultures, fix systems and reform practices.
                Many people in the Baltimore community are wondering today: what happens next?  Today, we are filing the consent decree in federal court, and together with the city and BPD asking the court to make the settlement a court order.  And when we do, both the city and the Justice Department will be asking the court to hold a hearing and provide an opportunity for the community to share its views on the decree.  Once the court approves it, the next step is to select an independent monitor to provide technical assistance to the city and BPD and assess their compliance with the decree.  We will engage in that process in a transparent manner and provide opportunities for public input.  
                We have come a long way.  And let me be clear: Baltimore has not stood still during this process.  Instead, BPD immediately began making improvements.  This has been a real and engaging partnership, with all parties bringing their ideas to the table.  With the leadership in this city, including Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis; with the engagement of this community; and with the input of Baltimore police officers and leaders, from union officials, to line officers, to command staff – I know the Baltimore Police Department can become a model for the rest of the nation.  I know this because we have seen it happen in other communities around the country during the past several years.  Police reform is hard work.  But given our experiences in many other cities, I firmly believe that when focused, measurable and detailed reforms are implemented effectively, with the support and commitment of all stakeholders, they restore community trust and advance officer and public safety.

    Remarks from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch: 

    I want to thank you for welcoming me to Baltimore today, and I want to thank you and commissioner [Kevin] Davis for your cooperation, dedication and commitment to reform.  I also want to thank Vanita Gupta, the outstanding leader of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and her team for their tremendous work in bringing about today’s agreement.
    Twenty-one months ago, I took the oath of office as Attorney General of the United States on the same day that Freddie Gray was laid to rest here in Baltimore.  That was a difficult day for a city that had already endured weeks of tension and protest, as feelings of mistrust and suspicion unfortunately boiled over into violence and unrest.  Several days later, I came here on my first trip as Attorney General.  I met with law enforcement officers; with the civic, religious and community leaders of the city; and with young people.  And in each meeting, what we heard was loud and clear: the people of Baltimore love their city – and because of their love, they were disturbed by the deeply-rooted mistrust between law enforcement officers and the community they serve.  They could not abide the breakdown of that trust.  They wanted to make things better.
    Shortly after my visit, the Justice Department launched a comprehensive investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.  That investigation allowed us to hear the pain, anger and frustration of many community members.  It allowed us to hear from local police officers about where their training falls short and what hardships they face in the field.  And the investigation allowed us to identify specific areas where BPD’s systems prevent it from lawfully and effectively serving the community it is sworn to protect.  In August 2015, we concluded that the police department had engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violated the Constitution and federal law – conduct that eroded trust and deprived the people of Baltimore of the rights and protections guaranteed to every American.  And we noted that the strains in community trust harmed all who call Baltimore home – its residents and its law enforcement officers alike.
    Today, I am proud to announce that as a result of that investigation – and after thorough, good-faith negotiations – the Department of Justice and the city of Baltimore have agreed to enter into a court-enforceable consent decree to remedy the violations identified in our pattern or practice investigation.  Through this agreement, we are moving forward together to heal the tension in the relationship between BPD and the community it serves.  The agreement is robust and comprehensive.  It includes a range of reforms to achieve our three main goals: to ensure effective and constitutional policing, to restore community’s trust in law enforcement and to advance public and officer safety.  It will help BPD gain the cooperation it needs from residents to fight and prevent crime.  Most importantly, it reflects significant input from the people of Baltimore.
    That involvement has been vital at every phase – from the investigation to the negotiation of this agreement – and it will continue to be critical as we implement reforms.  Because, as we know well, the future of Baltimore belongs to the people of this great city: to those who wear the badge and to those who seek its protection.  Your commitment, dedication and determination have brought these reforms to the table today.  And they will make the difference as we seek to realize the better future that is our shared goal.
                We have no illusions that the change we seek will be easy.  It will require a great deal of work from the leadership and officers of the Baltimore Police Department.  It will require persistent feedback and input from community members.  It will require the continued leadership and engagement of leaders like Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis.  And it will require sustained efforts from all parties to mend, strengthen and solidify the trust between law enforcement and the community – the trust that is the bedrock of Baltimore’s public safety.
    But I am confident that we are equal to that task.  During my 21 months in office, I have learned something about the spirit of this proud city.  This is a city of passionate and determined people.  It is a city that is honest about its shortcomings and hopeful about its possibilities.  And it is a city that will do the hard work to realize the brighter future its residents deserve.
    We have met with, heard from and admired so many of you.  We could not be prouder to be your partners on this journey towards making Baltimore a community that protects the dignity, rights and safety of all its people.  And the Department of Justice will continue to stand with you to ensure that the reforms of this consent decree are implemented – and that our shared vision of a safer, stronger, more united Baltimore are realized.

    No; a request for applications will be put out. Consulting and law firms tend to make up the applicants…

    Buried in the agreement is this paragraph that appears to try to insulate city from lawsuits that cite DOJ findings:

    Statement from FOP regarding release of DOJ Consent Decree

    Billy Muphy calls today a "revolution" in policing in Baltimore

    Meanwhile, police union tells members it is filing a grievance against dept after commissioner froze leave to deal w patrol staffing boost

    Statement from CASA on the DOJ agreement:

    CASA applauds Mayor Pugh and the Department of Justice for reaching an agreement that will guide reforms to the city's police department, just days before the Justice Department transitions to the incoming Trump administration.
            "The consent decree will be a critical tool toward reforming police culture and systems of accountability in Baltimore," said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres. "As a community, we have invested in this process and we are hopeful that it will yield the results that the residents deserve."
    The resolution came after thousands of city residents provided input and feedback during the extensive DOJ investigation and the department published a lengthy report earlier this fall.
             CASA has consistently advocated to ensure a transparent process that included maximum resident input is adopted. CASA hopes the city will continue to advance that agenda as the consent decree moves forward, including a public comment period prior to the judge signing off on the consent decree language and robust community participation from directly impacted communities in the monitor selection process.  
              "The DOJ findings underscored several points that Baltimore residents have known for a long time,” said CASA’s Regional Director Elizabeth Alex. "We have a long way to go to ensuring real systems of accountability and transparency in our police department and the consent decree will be a strong instrument toward that goal."
                 As the consent decree moves forward, the City of Baltimore has an opportunity to lead by example, by showing the very transparency and community accountability that the consent decree seeks to achieve in the police department.

    Baltimore Delegation's statement on the Consent Decree between BPD and the Department of Justice
    Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings joined U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger (all D-MD) in issuing the following statement after Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the finalization of a consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and Baltimore City Police Department:
    “Last summer’s DOJ report—which detailed systemic, repeated violations of the constitutional rights of Baltimore City residents—confirmed what many already knew to be true: the sacred trust between the Baltimore City Police Department and the people they are sworn to protect is in desperate need of repair.
    “We are very pleased to hear that the consent decree will be filed in court today, and applaud everyone who worked diligently these past several months to ensure that these negotiations move forward with the urgency they demand.
    “We look forward to learning more about the contents of this important document, and hope that it will provide the roadmap for reform the BPD needs.  We must ensure that the basic human rights of every Baltimore City resident are respected and upheld by the police officers charged with keeping them safe.
    “In the months and years to come, it will be on us all to ensure that the BPD and the City fulfill their obligations.  It will also be on us all to ensure that our brave officers in the BPD have the resources and support they need to best serve our City.  We stand ready as partners with Baltimore City, the BPD and the people of Baltimore to begin a new chapter in the relationship between the police and the community.”
    The #Baltimore consent decree is a vital step for residents who have waited DECADES for reform. Read our statement:……
    Baltimore NAACP prez says she's encouraged by Lynch's comments that decree will be in the hands of judge before change in administrations

    Sen. Joan Carter Conway:

    “We need to move on, we need to move forward, we need to rectify many of the police abuses,” Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Democrat and chair of the Baltimore delegation, said of the consent degree.

    She said persuading the state to help pay for the DOJ-mandated reforms will be a top priority for the delegation. -- Erin Cox

    Chinedu Nwokeafor, a Morgan State University senior who led protests at the university in the days after Gray’s death, said while the consent decree may contain orders that seem like common sense -- a lack of common sense to call a medic and check on Gray during his van ride is what proved to be fatal.

    “If you just look at it at a basic level, there were basic things that weren’t done,” said Nwokeafor, a member of the Morgan group Strong Men Overcoming Obstacles Through Hard Work. “At least now there’s no excuse because there’s a decree. Even though it may seem redundant, that’s a good way for accountability.” -- Justin George

    Elizabeth Alex, regional director of the immigrant and Latino advocacy group CASA, said her group pushed for the public to have input at every step in the federal process. That job isn’t done, she said, and her group wants to ensure that the public will be able to comment on the decree before the judge signs it and also question candidates for the role of official monitor.
    “This period we are in right now,” Alex said, “is a critical point for civilian input.” -- Justin George

    NAACP Legal Defense Fund

    "We thank Justice Department and Baltimore City officials for responding to residents’ requests that officials expeditiously, yet thoroughly, negotiate a consent decree to resolve extensive civil rights violations alleged in DOJ’s investigative report. The timely consent decree builds on the momentum and expertise of the parties and city residents who have waited decades for policing reform in Baltimore.

    "Recognizing that community feedback and support of the consent decree is vital to its success, Justice Department and City officials have agreed to ask the federal judge assigned to the case to order a public comment period and hearing during which residents and other stakeholders may offer feedback on the agreement. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) welcomes this opportunity and looks forward to partnering with residents to thoroughly review and comment on the consent decree in an effort to support vital policing reforms in Baltimore.

    “We are also eager to work with residents, and federal and state officials to identify a trusted and qualified independent team of monitors to oversee the implementation of the consent decree. LDF will continue to build on its work with the community, such as the September 7, 2016 town hall we co-sponsored, at which DOJ lawyers were present, to support members of the community in sharing their perspectives on reform."  

    UPDATED: Baltimore, Justice Department reach consent decree agreement on police reform
    Statement from Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby regarding Consent Decree
    “This is a good day for Baltimore City, as this consent decree is a step in the right direction toward the necessary reforms to ensure accountability, transparency, and trust among our communities and law enforcement.  The vast majority of Baltimore City Police officers are good officers that risk their lives serving the citizens of this city each and every day and I’m encouraged by today’s comprehensive plan toward assuring best policing practices for a healthy community-law-enforcement relationship going forward.
    I would like to thank Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice for their efforts on this contract with the City, and look forward to working with Mayor Pugh, Commissioner Davis and member of the community to ensure its compliance. We need each other to make our communities safe and I am a committed partner in this fight.”
    The DOJ consent decree on Baltimore policing requires training and oversight for sexual assault investigations.
    Statement from Open Society Institute-Baltimore
    “The signing of this consent decree is a critical step in the process of transforming the culture and practices of the Baltimore Police Department, regardless of changes in administrations at the local, state, or federal level,” said OSI-Baltimore Director Diana Morris. “We are committed to the success of the consent decree and will continue to work with the City, Baltimore Police Department and communities to build a city where all residents feel respected and safe.”

    OSI-Baltimore applauds Mayor Catherine Pugh, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta for working together to bring the consent decree to fruition. OSI-Baltimore particularly commends the many Baltimore residents who communicated their concerns and suggestions to the Department of Justice throughout the investigation and consent decree process, either electronically or at a series of public hearings, including one at OSI-Baltimore’s office.

    In addition, OSI-Baltimore brought together advocates with the Department of Justice investigators and has provided support to the Baltimore Police Department to begin to implement reforms. It has also provided funding to six community and advocacy organizations (Baltimore Action Legal Team, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, CASA, ACLU of Maryland, Power Inside, and No Boundaries) so that they could contribute fully to the investigation and to subsequent reform efforts. OSI-Baltimore will continue to support the Baltimore Police Department and community groups working to improve policing in Baltimore.
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