The major in charge of the Baltimore Police training academy is retiring, just as the department begins training officers on consent decree reforms.
Marc Partee, who has served with the department since 1996, was appointed to the position in February by then-commissioner Darryl De Sousa. It was among a number of staff changes by De Sousa, who resigned three months later after he was charged with failing to file his income taxes.
Police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said the training academy will now be headed by Lt. Col. Margaret Barillaro, who will also continue to oversee the Recruitment and Officer Wellness Division.
Partee said he is leaving the department to teach full time. He has been an adjunct criminal justice professor at Stevenson University.
“I realized that I might be able to make more of a difference on the other side — bridge that gap of the leaders of tomorrow and police,” Partee said. “It’s time for me to step into another role, and help the field of policing.”
Partee said his decision was not tied to the recent turnover in leadership in the department, and that he believes the training academy is well-positioned to implement the required reforms and bring about meaningful change to the department.
“We’ve made some huge strides since February. The folks you have at the training academy are top-notch instructors. It seems that they will get the resources they need to get the job done. When they do, it’s going to be stellar,” he said.
Widespread reforms are required by the consent decree, which was reached between the city and the U.S. Justice Department in 2017 after an investigation found city police regularly violated residents’ civil rights, especially minorities. The consent decree reforms are expected to take years to implement.
Partee noted instructors at the academy will themselves get new training that focuses on real-life scenarios, which “is going to pay dividends when we talk about constitutional policing,” he said.
Councilman Brandon Scott, chair of the public safety committee, said he was disappointed to hear about Partee’s decision, and even tried to have him reconsider.
“I just think that the department needs leaders like Marc, and to be quite honest, it needs African-American leadership,” he said.
Scott noted the recent promotions of two African-American women, Major Tomecha Brown in the Southeastern District and Major Natalie Preston in the Northeastern District. He said both have roots in Baltimore.
“It’s important that the department continue to put people in place who are successful, but we have to value diversity and value people who are from Baltimore,” Scott said.
The department lost several high-ranking officials last year. Col. Perry Standfield left in October following a dispute with Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle’s chief of staff, Jim Gillis. Days later, former spokesman T.J. Smith left, and Tuggle withdrew his name from consideration for the permanent police commissioner job.
The second year of consent decree implementation will largely focus on training officers about revised policies on things such as use of force, body-worn cameras, impartial policing and stops, searches and arrests.
“We don’t anticipate that slowing up our work,” Kenneth Thompson, who heads the consent decree monitoring team, said of Partee’s retirement. “We are always concerned about personnel changes, but we are reasonably comfortable that we have the leadership there.”
The department will begin a new training schedule this year. The number of hours current officers will spend in training will increase from 23 hours to 40 hours a year. Rather than receiving training in two-week chunks, the officers will now receive training in shorter blocks focused on specific subjects. The monitoring team said this would allow the department to hold officers accountable at the end of a training cycle, rather than waiting until the end of the year to evaluate them.
A staffing study completed in August noted a need to reorganize and increase staff at the academy to meet training needs.
“Creating an exceptional training environment for new hires and existing officers requires sufficient staff to keep abreast of new mandates and training methodologies, to conduct an increasing number of scenarios in accordance with the principles of adult learning, to adapt to the requirements of the consent decree and to maintain a constant focus on safety and accountability,” the report says.
The report drew comparisons to the New Orleans Police Department, which has been under a consent decree since 2013. New Orleans nearly doubled academy staff from 13 to 23 and adjusted the number of adjunct instructors to meet the new training requirements there.
“The department and the city will need to make a substantial commitment both in terms of long-range planning and funding to enable the academy to fulfill its mission,” the Baltimore staffing report noted.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison, who has helped guide the process there, is now headed to Baltimore as Mayor Catherine Pugh’s pick to be the next police commissioner. He must still be approved by the City Council.
“The department and the city will need to make a substantial commitment both in terms of long-range planning and funding to enable the academy to fulfill its mission,” the staffing study noted.
Partee’s annual salary was $126,000, city salary records show.
He previously worked in patrol in the Central District, on several task forces, and as a commander in the central district and Inner Harbor areas.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.