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How the Baltimore Police consent decree monitor will spend $1.475 million this year

The team overseeing court-ordered police reforms in Baltimore has released its draft budget, indicating how it plans to spend the $1.475 million allocated for the first year under the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The majority of the budget will pay the salaries of the 22-member monitoring team, which is headed by Ken Thompson, a partner at the Venable law firm. He is budgeted to receive $128,250.

Thompson, however, is not the team’s highest-paid member. That distinction goes to Seth Rosenthal, another attorney at Venable, who is largely responsible for the team’s administration and for writing reports issued by the group. He will make $152,000.

The budget only covers monitoring compliance. City officials have said they expect the implementation of the consent decree reforms to cost tens of millions of dollars over the course of several years.

The consent decree was negotiated between the city and Justice Department and approved by a federal judge last year. It calls for significant new restrictions on officers, including limits on when and how they can engage individuals suspected of criminal activity. It orders more training for police on de-escalation tactics and interactions with youths, those with mental illness and protesters, as well as more supervision for officers.

The deal also requires the city to invest in better technology and equipment, and for the Police Department to enhance civilian oversight and transparency.

Baltimore Community Mediation Center, which was added to the monitoring team to oversee community outreach throughout the process, will receive $119,500, according to the draft budget.

Most team members charge “well below the rates the Team’s subject matter experts customarily earn working in consulting capacities for law enforcement agencies engaged in reform,” the draft says.

The team also estimates that it will provide $416,545 worth of pro-bono work in the first year.

“The capped budget of $1.475 million, while necessary to conserve the City’s finite resources, will not cover all of the work the Monitoring Team must do,” a report accompanying the budget says. “All members of the Monitoring Team are fully committed to doing pro-bono work because we are dedicated to ensuring that BPD achieves the institutional change that the Consent Decree prescribes.”

The budget also provides $162,488 for other costs, such as travel expenses for team members based out of town, and $60,000 to pay for a community survey at the end of the year to “gauge community and officer views about BPD performance and BPD needs,” the report said.

Each month, the team is expected to submit to U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar invoices that contain details of the billable hours.

The draft budget is expected to be submitted to the judge for approval during the week of Feb. 12.

Those who want to comment on the budget can submit feedback through Feb. 9 via an online questionnaire at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FirstYearBudget, by mail to BPD Monitoring Team c/o Kenneth Thompson Venable LLP 750 East Pratt Street, Suite 900 Baltimore, MD 21202, or by hand-delivering a letter to the monitoring team’s office at 7 E. Redwood Street, 6th Floor, in Baltimore.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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