The public will soon have a chance to comment on a proposed monitoring plan for Baltimore’s implementation of police reforms mandated under its consent decree with the Justice Department, according to an updated timeline approved by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar on Wednesday.
According to the new schedule, the independent monitor team led by Venable attorney Kenneth Thompson submitted a draft plan to the city and the Justice Department on Dec. 5, which will undergo internal revisions based on comments from the parties before an updated version is released for public comment on Jan. 8.
“The Consent Decree does not require the proposed Monitoring Plan to be released to the public prior to submission to the Court. The Monitor, however, recognizes the importance of obtaining the community’s views about the priorities reflected in the Monitoring Plan. So do the Parties,” Thompson wrote in a recent filing in the consent decree case proposing the new timeline.
The public comment period will last three weeks, until Jan. 29, according to the timeline. A final proposal will be submitted to the court for review by Feb. 5.
Baltimore and the Justice Department signed the consent decree, which mandates sweeping reforms to the police department, on Jan. 12, in the waning days of the Obama administration.
The latest timeline puts the monitor ahead of schedule. The language of the consent decree provides significant time for the selected monitor to put forward a plan after being appointed. However, Thompson — who was appointed on Oct. 3 — wrote in his recent filing that his team understands “the need to begin making tangible progress toward the Consent Decree’s goals as expeditiously as possible.”
City Solicitor Andre Davis is happy the monitoring team “got their plan out earlier than expected” to the parties, so the back-and-forth editing process could begin sooner than expected.
“We’re going to get back to them with our comments just as expeditiously as we possibly can,” Davis said. “We’re pleased with the way the process has gone so far.”
Thompson’s team includes individuals from two different teams that had applied for the post and other individuals who had not applied. It was assembled by the city and the Justice Department after Bredar suggested they adopt a mix-and-match approach and they determined that none of the individual teams bidding for the job met all of their needs, city officials have said.
Officials declined to make the existing draft version of the plan available for review.