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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. They did so without publicly releasing the agreement, and without specifying how much it will cost.

Baltimore Delegation of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger:
 
“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.”

Sen. Joan Carter Conway: 

“We need to move on, we need to move forward, we need to rectify many of the police abuses."

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

CASA:

"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."
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.

Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #3:

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Despite continued assurances by representatives of the Department of Justice that our organization would be included in the Consent Decree negotiations, no request to participate was ever forthcoming and we were not involved in the process. As we were not afforded an advance copy of the agreement, neither our rank and file members who will be the most affected, nor our Attorneys, have had a chance to read the final product and, as such, we will not have a comment now. Be assured, however, that a response will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.

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."

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."

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."

Read statements from the news conference:

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