The independent monitoring team that will oversee sweeping police reforms in Baltimore is asking residents for their input at four forthcoming meetings and has created a website to provide updates on the process.
The community forums will be held in different areas of the city over the next month; the first is for Tuesday at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, 3500 Hillen Road.
The others are scheduled for:
- Nov. 28, Frederick Douglass High School, 2301 Gwynns Falls Parkway
- Nov. 29, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, 1400 Orleans St.
- Dec. 19, Harford Heights Elementary School, 1919 N. Broadway
All forums will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The monitoring team that will oversee the federal consent decree was picked by city and U.S. Department of Justice officials and approved by a federal judge in October. The team has 90 days to submit its monitoring plan to the judge.
The consent decree was reached earlier this year after a Justice Department investigation into the Baltimore Police Department following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody and the subsequent rioting in the city. That investigation found widespread discriminatory and unconstitutional policing in Baltimore, particularly in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods.
The monitoring team will help the police department carry out mandated reforms, which include limits on when and how officers can engage individuals suspected of criminal activity, and training in de-escalation tactics as well as interactions with young people, the mentally ill and protesters. The consent decree also requires the city to invest in better technology and equipment, and for the Police Department to enhance civilian oversight and transparency.
At the forums, the monitoring team “will seek to gain insight into community expectations about the reforms and reform process envisioned by the Consent Decree,” according to a statement from the monitor.
In addition, trained facilitators “will focus participants on the community-engagement objective of the forums using inclusive, neutral, community-based facilitation techniques,” the statement read.
The monitoring team is headed by Kenneth Thompson, a partner at Baltimore’s Venable law firm, and includes policing experts, lawyers, psychologists and criminal justice professors.
It also includes Baltimore Community Mediation, a local nonprofit that was added to the team to foster community engagement. The consent decree allocates up to $1.475 million annually over a three-year term to pay for monitoring compliance.
The new website, www.bpdmonitor.com, provides information on forthcoming events, profiles of the team members and a copy of the 227-page decree.