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More than two dozen teams apply to serve as monitor of Baltimore Police consent decree

More than two dozen teams applied to serve as the independent monitor overseeing police reforms in Baltimore under the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a list obtained Friday by The Baltimore Sun.

It includes top law and consulting firms from across the country, as well as former prosecutors, judges and elected officials. It also includes some well-known names in Maryland.

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The consent decree, reached in the waning days of the Obama administration and approved by a federal judge in April, mandates sweeping reforms to the city's Police Department and allocates up to $1.475 million per year to pay for a monitoring team. Applications for the contract were due Thursday.

The applications — 26 in all — were not released, and the applicant list provided to the Sun by the office of Mayor Catherine Pugh does not name all members of each prospective team, making it difficult to assess each team.

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The list, however, does provide some insight into who is vying for the job.

Former Maryland Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler and former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey submitted a joint application.

Gansler on Friday said he and Ivey want to serve "a city we both love," but otherwise declined to comment.

Chad Curlett, a former New York prosecutor who previously served on a consent decree monitoring team in Detroit and has said he is running against Marilyn J. Mosby in the 2018 race for Baltimore state's attorney, said he applied on behalf of a team of about 15 people from Baltimore, including former U.S. District Judges Benson Legg and Alexander Williams.

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Curlett said Legg and Williams will serve as "co-monitors," while he would serve as "project manager." He said he will drop out of the state's attorney's race if his team is selected.

"The biggest problem facing Baltimore right now, in my view, is crime," Curlett said. "The two most significant components [in addressing] that are effective policing and the effective functioning of the state's attorneys office, and I think there is substantial work to be done in both regards. I am committed to doing everything I can to serving in a position of leadership to help make Baltimore safer."

The group 21st Century Policing submitted an application, along with the firm Exiger LLC, a "global governance, risk and compliance" firm. The 21st Century group touts nationally recognized policing and police reform experts as consultants, including Ronald Davis, former director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in the Obama administration, and Charles H. Ramsey, who has led police departments in Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington.

Michael R. Bromwich, a former inspector general of the Justice Department who previously served as a police reform monitor in the District of Columbia, applied on behalf of his consulting firm. Robert Bobb, a former city administrator and deputy mayor in the District of Columbia who served as emergency financial manager of Detroit Public Schools, submitted a joint application for his firm and the nonprofit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.

Former Baltimore city solicitor Thurman Zollicoffer, now with the law firm Whiteford Taylor Preston, applied on behalf of a larger team, he said.

Other applicants include Ty Kelly Cronin, a former federal prosecutor who prosecuted Baltimore police officers involved in a high-profile towing kickback scheme several years ago, and Heather Lyons, a psychology professor and director of clinical training at Loyola University Maryland.

Of the applicants, about a third are listed as being from Baltimore. The rest are from all across the country, from New York to California.

Pugh said in a statement Friday that she was "pleased by both the number and the caliber of applicants interested in serving" as the monitor.

"This is one of the most important steps forward as we continue our efforts to reform and improve our police department in order to create the kind of law enforcement agency that effectively serves the citizens of Baltimore," Pugh said. "We will be moving quickly to vet the applicants and to have someone in place at the earliest opportunity."

The Justice Department declined to comment on the list.

According to the terms of the consent decree, the city and Justice Department will jointly select the monitor, which will be expected to have "expertise in policing, civil rights, monitoring, data analysis, project management, and related areas, as well as local experience and expertise with the diverse communities of Baltimore."

The applications are to be posted online by June 16, and a public comment period is to last until July 17. Finalists will then be selected by the Justice Department and the city and invited for interviews, for which the public will be able to submit questions. Two public meetings also will be held.

The city and Justice Department will recommend a monitor to the court in August. If they cannot agree, they will each submit one. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar, to whom the monitor will report, will then appoint the monitor for a three-year term.

The consent decree stems from a full-scale investigation of the Baltimore Police Department by the Justice Department after the 2015 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody and the subsequent rioting in the city. In August, Justice released a scathing report that outlined a pattern of what it described as unconstitutional and discriminatory policing, particularly in predominantly black neighborhoods.

After the report was released, the city and the Justice Department engaged in months of negotiations before agreeing to the consent decree. Bredar approved the agreement in April — turning it into an order of the court — despite requests by the Trump administration for a delay based on reservations the deal would make the city less safe.

The consent decree calls for new limits on when and how officers can engage individuals suspected of criminal activity, and orders more supervision and training for police on de-escalation tactics and interactions with minorities, youths, those with mental illness and protesters.

It also requires additional civilian oversight and transparency within the Police Department, better technology and equipment for its officers, and a police staffing study.

The monitor team will complete "Compliance Reviews" and "Outcome Assessments" of the city's work to comply with the provisions of the consent decree.

The monitor will assess the public's satisfaction with the Police Department; response times for calls for service; whether arrests are supported by probable cause; the frequency of civilian complaints against police; whether officers are using force lawfully; whether stops and detentions are being conducted under the principles of community policing and constitutional requirements; whether police actions are having a disproportionate impact on people of different racial and ethnic groups; and how officers treat those with disabilities, youths, protesters and victims of sexual assaults.

Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division under the Obama administration, who helped lead the consent decree negotiations, said she was encouraged by the list of applicants.

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"Having a big slate of candidates really signals the degree to which there's a lot of investment in getting this right in Baltimore," Gupta said. "The good news is that the city and the Justice Department and Baltimore residents are going to have a lot of choices to make the best selection that is going to carry through reforms."

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Jonathan Smith, a former chief of special litigation in the Justice Department's civil rights division under Obama, said Baltimore has some strong candidates, citing the Bromwich and Bobb teams in particular.

He said there are likely more highly qualified individuals who are unnamed members of other teams, as well, and he encouraged city officials to "do a little mix and match" with the most qualified individuals involved.

"You want to put together the right team," he said, suggesting city officials should go to their top candidate and, before offering the job, say, "I want you, but there's three other people who were with other teams, but who we think are the right people for Baltimore. Can you put them on your team?"

Upon selection, the monitor team will have 90 days to develop a "Monitoring Plan" in conjunction with the parties to the consent decree.

The parties will have 45 days to review the monitoring plan and approve it or propose changes. If disagreements persist, Bredar will step in. Bredar also will reassess the monitor's contract at the end of the three-year term, and may renew the appointment.

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