The Baltimore Police Monitoring Team is charged with overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree between the City of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Monitoring Team’s job is to help the Court gauge whether, consistent with the Consent Decree’s objectives, the Baltimore City Police Department is achieving meaningful reform – real world change with tangible, positive results for Baltimoreans.
The Consent Decree provides that, on behalf of Federal Judge James K. Bredar, the Baltimore Police Monitoring Team will “assess and report whether the requirements of this Agreement have been implemented, and provide Technical Assistance in achieving compliance.” (¶ 442). This means that the Monitoring Team plays several roles: arbiter, technical advisor, and facilitator.
As arbiter, the Monitoring Team oversees the day-to-day efforts of the City and Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) to comply with the reforms required by the Consent Decree. The Monitoring Team reviews, provides feedback on, and ultimately recommends Court approval or disapproval of the changes the BPD makes in its policies, training, and practices. The Monitoring Team establishes clear expectations so that both the BPD and Baltimore residents know what the BPD must do to achieve the Consent Decree’s objectives.
As technical advisor, the Monitoring Team draws upon its decades of collective experience in policing and police reform, civil rights enforcement, social science, and organizational change to help guide the BPD toward satisfying the requirements of the Consent Decree. As the BPD seeks to achieve reform, the Monitoring Team will provide the BPD with technical assistance that will include informing the BPD about national best practices and educating the BPD about what has worked (and what has failed) for other law enforcement agencies that have confronted challenges similar to the BPD’s.
As facilitator, the Monitoring Team ensures that all stakeholders, from within the BPD and across Baltimore’s diverse communities, have a voice in the Consent Decree process. The Monitoring Team works with the City, the BPD, the United States Department of Justice, and Court to provide a framework for implementing the Decree. Likewise, the Monitoring Team organizes and leads meetings, discussions, and educational forums throughout Baltimore to ensure that Baltimore residents have an opportunity to participate in the reform process.
The Monitoring Team is not a substitute for the Police Commissioner, the Mayor, or the City Council. We are not authorized to do the work of any City official, and we do not represent the BPD or the City. Similarly, the Monitoring Team is not an arm of the United States Department of Justice. We do not represent, advocate for, or do the work of the Department of Justice. The Monitoring Team is an independent agent of the federal court—Judge James K. Bredar—whose role is strictly limited to overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree.
The goal of the Monitoring Team is the goal of the Consent Decree: effective, safe, constitutional policing that is consistent with the values of Baltimore's diverse communities.
As an agent of a federal court with a limited role, the Monitoring Team does not have the authority or the ability to weigh in on all police-related matters. For instance, although the Monitoring Team assesses compliance with mandated reforms in the investigation and discipline of BPD officer misconduct, the Monitoring Team cannot bring criminal charges against police officers accused of wrongdoing. We are not a substitute for local or federal prosecutors. Likewise, the Monitoring Team cannot intervene in employment or disciplinary matters within the BPD. We do not offer a substitute for the formal disciplinary process and cannot override the decisions of the BPD, the City, or arbitrators.
As agents of a federal court whose exclusive role is to oversee implementation of the Consent Decree, the Monitoring Team assesses whether the BPD is, in fact, making the changes that the Consent Decree requires, provides technical assistance to the BPD as it works toward making those changes, and engages City residents, BPD officers, and City officials and to ensure that, where appropriate, those changes reflect their input. The goal of the Monitoring Team is the goal of the Consent Decree: effective, safe, constitutional policing that is consistent with the values of Baltimore's diverse communities.