Written comments from a dozen groups and 47 individuals expressing a range of opinions on the proposed consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and Baltimore were submitted as part of a 195-page filing in U.S. District Court this week.
Most of the commenters offered their support for the police reform agreement, though often with a few recommendations to improve it. Others registered their outright opposition to the deal.
If approved by Judge James K. Bredar, the consent decree would mandate a range of reforms within the Baltimore Police Department. The deal was negotiated after the Justice Department investigated the department following the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent unrest in 2015 and found a pattern of police violating local residents' constitutional rights.
Organizations such as the Campaign for Justice, Safety & Jobs, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the No Boundaries Coalition of Central West Baltimore submitted detailed comments.
Some residents appear to have simply signed their names to a form letter calling for transparency and civilian participation in the process. Others wrote personal accounts of their experiences with city police.
Isaac Wilson, identified as a student at Frederick Douglass High School, wrote, "I feel like there is no real punishment for the misconduct of officers who mistreat and sometimes even kill the civilians of the city."
"There has always been an aspect of race involved in encounters with the police. When I was young, my father would be stopped by police officers very often when driving and I myself inherited this burden. Especially in my freshman year of high school when I found myself being stopped by officers more often than I had in previous years," Wilson wrote, echoing findings by the Justice Department of unconstitutional stops and searches occurring in Baltimore, particularly in predominantly black neighborhoods.
He ended his letter by urging the court to approve the consent decree "so that officers of the [police department] will be cured of their discriminatory behaviors."
Others opposed the consent decree.
"I am against the consent decree because I believe it is against the public interest," wrote a man identified as Sean Tully.
"I believe it will hamper the police force and result in the general public being at a greater risk as incidents of crime will increase," he wrote. "The cure for some bad police will be worse than the actions of those same bad police."
You can read all of the comments here.