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West Baltimore advocate joins city police consent decree monitoring team

A West Baltimore community advocate will serve on the independent panel that is overseeing implementation of widespread policing reforms in the city.

Ray Kelly, a Sandtown-Winchester resident who previously headed the No Boundaries Coalition of Central West Baltimore and advocated for constitutional policing reforms, has been named interim executive director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center. The role calls upon him to serve as the lead community liaison for the monitoring team overseeing the consent decree reached between the city and U.S. Justice Department that mandates numerous policing reforms.

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“I believe that this monitoring role gives me an opportunity to leverage my relationships and my experience to give the community access,” Kelly said Friday.

He said he’s applied to have the job permanently, which requires approval by the Baltimore Community Mediation Center board.

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After a year of largely rewriting polices, the Baltimore Police Department will begin retraining officers next year, which some observers hope will result in noticeable reforms.

The nonprofit Baltimore Community Mediation Center was chosen by the city and Justice Department to join the monitoring team, which includes legal and law enforcement experts. During the team selection process, some observers had requested a local partner that would be better equipped to engage residents from different communities.

The mediation center is responsible for informing and obtaining feedback from residents about the consent decree and the Police Department’s progress toward compliance.

Kelly replaces Shantay Guy, who said previously that she joined Baltimore Community Mediation Center, after leaving a job as a technology project manager at T. Rowe Price, as a way to heal the community after the 2015 riots following the death of Freddie Gray.

Guy is now the chief operating officer of the LEADERship, a nonprofit program of the Greater Baltimore Committee, according to the GBC’s website. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is considering hiring a former acting Baltimore Police commissioner - a recent critic of the agency and an advocate for tougher policing tactics - for a role in City Hall where he would advise her on crime policy. Anthony Barksdale was acting commissioner in 2012.

Kelly said serving as part of the monitoring team will provide “an opportunity to further the community's influence,” and he said he wants to get more residents involved about the process.

“I think the first year was actually structuring how to come up with the plan. In the second year, we are starting to move on with implementation,” he said. “We need to get more residents involved in the process and have that feedback.”

Ashiah Parker is serving as interim director of the No Boundaries Coalition.

Darnyle Wharton will continue to serve as a community engagement coordinator under Kelly, overseeing neighborhood liaisons who serve in each of the Baltimore police department’s nine districts.

Last year, a federal judge approved a consent decree between the city of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice, mandating sweeping police reforms. Here’s a what you need to know about the consent decree.

The monitoring team is currently asking residents for feedback on a second-year plan, which sets a schedule for training and other reforms. The plan must still be approved by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar who is enforcing the consent decree. The decree is expected to take five years or longer to fully implement.

The monitoring team is hosting its next quarterly forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Edgewood Lyndhurst Recreation Center, 849 Allendale St.

The next quarterly court hearing, where city, Police Department, and Justice Department officials must gather before Bredar, will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 24 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Baltimore.

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