What is the Consent Decree?
What led to the Consent Decree?
What is the Baltimore Police Department Monitoring Team?
What does the BPD Monitoring Team do?
What doesn't the Monitoring Team do?
What will the Monitoring Team do if a resident seeks to report officer misconduct?
What happens if BPD doesn't do what it is required to do under the Consent Decree?
Does the Monitoring Team observe in real-time how BPD officers perform their duties?
Does the Monitoring Team have any relationship to the Civilian Review Board or the Community Oversight Task Force?
How will the Monitoring Team engage Baltimore's diverse communities in its work?
How will the Monitoring Team engage specific, affected communities, including African-Americans, Latinos, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQIA individuals, elderly citizens, returning citizens, and crime victims?
Will the Monitoring Team obtain the views of BPD officers about the Consent Decree?
How will community feedback influence the Monitoring Team's assessment of BPD's progress?
How will the Monitoring Team publicize its community meetings and Court hearing?
What is the Monitoring Team's annual budget for community engagement?
How much time will each member of the Monitoring Team devote to work on the Consent Decree?
Does the Monitoring Team review past BPD performance, such as resolved complaints of police misconduct pre-dating the Court's approval of the Consent Decree, or does it only review BPD performance post-dating the Court's approval of the Consent Decree?
Will the Monitoring Team assess whether BPD officers are presently adhering to existing BPD policies, or will the Monitoring Team only assess compliance with the new policies required by the Consent Decree once they are in place?
Will the Monitoring Team assess revisions in BPD policies and practices to determine if they are producing greater racial equity?
Will the Monitoring Team publicly identify officers found to repeatedly violate the BPD policies that are implicated by the Consent Decree (e.g., policies on use of force?
Does the Consent Decree address the school-to-prison pipeline?
How can community members provide the Court feedback on the Monitoring Team's performance?


What is the Consent Decree?

The Consent Decree is a court-approved agreement resolving a lawsuit that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) brought against the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the City of Baltimore.  That lawsuit alleged that BPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of constitutional violations.  The Consent Decree requires BPD and the City to adopt a comprehensive set of reforms designed to promote fair and constitutional policing, rebuild BPD’s relationships with Baltimore’s communities, and ensure public safety.  The federal judge who approved the Consent Decree is James K. Bredar, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.  Because the Consent Decree is a court order, Judge Bredar has the power to enforce its provisions. 


What led to the Consent Decree?

At the request of former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted an investigation of BPD.  The investigation, completed in 2016, found that BPD had engaged in a pattern-or-practice of constitutional violations, including using excessive force, infringing on the First Amendment freedoms of speech and assembly, and stopping, searching, and arresting people without probable cause and based on their race.  After making these findings, DOJ entered into negotiations with BPD and the City in an effort to resolve the parties’ differences.  Those negotiations resulted in the Consent Decree, which has the support of current Baltimore Catherine Pugh.


What is the Baltimore Police Department Monitoring Team?

The BPD Monitoring Team was appointed by Judge Bredar to oversee the implementation of the Consent Decree between DOJ, BPD, and the City. Our job is to serve as Judge Bredar’s agent, helping him gauge whether, consistent with the Consent Decree’s objectives, BPD is achieving meaningful reform by making tangible changes in its policies and practices. The Monitoring Team also provides technical assistance to BPD as BPD seeks to implement the reforms required by the Consent Decree.

The Monitoring Team includes specialists in policing and police reform, civil rights enforcement, psychology, social science, organizational change, data and technology, and community engagement.  The composition and biographies of the members of the Monitoring Team can be found at https://www.bpdmonitor.com/about/.

The Monitoring Team is not a substitute for the Police Commissioner, other BPD command staff, 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.  Instead, the Monitoring Team is an independent agent of Judge Bredar.  Our 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 consistent with the values of Baltimore's diverse communities.


What does the BPD Monitoring Team do?

The Monitoring Team plays several roles under the Consent Decree:  arbiter, technical advisor, and facilitator.

As arbiter, the Monitoring Team oversees the day-to-day efforts of BPD and the City 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 also reports our findings to the public.  We establish 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 our 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, DOJ, and the 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 and police officers have an opportunity to participate in the reform process.

What doesn't the Monitoring Team do?

The Monitoring Team’s authority is restricted to what the Consent Decree authorizes. The Monitoring Team does not do anything that the Consent Decree does not authorize.  In other words, we do not have the authority or the ability to weigh in on all police-related matters.  Rather, our authority extends only to the issues addressed in the Consent Decree.

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, determine whether to bring, or recommend criminal charges against police officers accused of wrongdoing in specific cases. 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 conduct independent investigations of allegations of misconduct by BPD officers or make employment or disciplinary recommendations or decisions affecting BPD officers. Nor can the Monitoring Team make or override the employment-related decisions of the BPD, the City, or arbitrators. What we do is assess whether BPD administers its disciplinary process—from intake to investigation to outcomes—consistent with the requirements of the Consent Decree.

Additionally, while it is the Monitoring Team’s duty to evaluate whether BPD’s actions are consistent with the requirements of the Consent Decree, it is not appropriate for the Monitoring Team to interject itself into active crime scene investigations or to assume the role of BPD command staff by intervening in the performance of BPD officers’ duties. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the Monitoring Team’s job is to assess BPD’s conduct, not direct it. The Consent Decree expressly provides that “the Monitor will only have the duties, responsibilities, and authority conferred by [the Consent Decree].  The Monitor will not, and is not intended to, replace or assume the role and the duties of the City or BPD, or any duties of any City or BPD employee…”

What will the Monitoring Team do if a resident seeks to report officer misconduct?

If a citizen seeks to report officer misconduct to the Monitoring Team, the Monitoring Team will do the following:

a)     We will refer the citizen to BPD’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) or the City’s Civilian Review Board (CRB) to file a complaint.  It is OPR that has the authority to investigate and discipline officers, not the Monitoring Team.  CRB refers complaints to OPR and may conduct its own investigations, though CRB has no authority to discipline officers.

b)    If warranted, and if the complaint raises an issue that falls within the Monitoring Team’s oversight responsibilities under the Consent Decree, we will obtain from the citizen information about the incident—not for the purpose of conducting our own investigation (which we are not authorized to do), but rather for the purpose of gathering evidence that could inform our assessment of BPD performance under the Consent Decree.

c)     If a complaint is filed with (or forwarded by the CRB to) OPR, we will follow and evaluate OPR’s investigation and resolution of the complaint to determine BPD’s compliance with the accountability provisions of the Consent Decree.

d)    If the citizen alleges potential criminal conduct, we will report the matter to the State’s Attorney’s Office in Baltimore City and, if it involves a potential violation of federal law, the United States Attorney’s Office in Maryland and the Department of Justice as well.

What happens if BPD doesn’t do what it is required to do under the Consent Decree?

At the outset, BPD is presumed not to be in compliance with any of the provisions of the Consent Decree. The whole purpose of the Consent Decree is to establish goals that BPD must achieve over time. The requirements for the first year of the Consent Decree are now set forth in a detailed Monitoring Plan. The Monitoring Plan establishes compliance deadlines for meeting those requirements. If BPD fails to satisfy a Consent Decree provision by the established deadline, the Monitoring Team will report such non-compliance to the public in written submissions to the Court-either in the biannual reports we are required to issue or, if necessary, in separate reports. The Court has the power to require BPD to comply. Judge Bredar can order BPD and City officials to appear in court and require them to show cause why they are not in compliance. If BPD continues not to comply, the Court can exercise its powers to enforce compliance. Judge Bredar can, for instance, fine BPD and the City until they achieve compliance.


Does the Monitoring Team observe in real-time how BPD officers perform their duties?

To assess BPD's practices, the Monitoring Team engages in certain "real-time monitoring," as long as we do not interfere with officer job performance. For instance, we participate in officer ride-alongs. Under protocols that have been developed, we also will respond to, and observe BPD handling of, critical officer-involved incidents, and periodically we will attend and observe officer training sessions and disciplinary hearings. Additionally, because of the requirement that BPD officers activate their body-worn cameras during interactions with civilians, we will review body-worn camera video footage in our assessment of BPD's compliance with certain Consent Decree provisions.


Does the Monitoring Team have any relationship to the Civilian Review Board or the Community Oversight Task Force?

The Monitoring Team, the Civilian Review Board, and the Community Oversight Task Force are different entities that serve different functions.

The Monitoring Team is an agent of a federal court.  Our function is to determine whether BPD achieves compliance with the requirements of the Consent Decree, to provide BPD technical assistance to assist BPD to achieve compliance, and to facilitate community and officer involvement in the reform process.

The Civilian Review Board (CRB) is an independent agency of Baltimore City, not an agent of a federal court like the Monitoring Team.  The CRB, which is composed of one community member from each of the nine police districts in Baltimore City, receives and investigates complaints against police officers that allege the use of excessive force, abusive language, harassment, false arrest, and false imprisonment by police officers. In addition, the CRB reviews BPD procedures and makes recommendations to the BPD Commissioner.

The Consent Decree required the City of Baltimore to establish the Community Oversight Task Force (COTF) to recommend reforms to the CRB and the current system of civilian oversight of BPD. COTF, which consists of nine community leaders, is required to issue a report with its recommendations for the CRB by June 30, 2017. 

How will the Monitoring Team engage Baltimore’s diverse communities in its work?

The overarching goal of the Consent Decree is to build trust between BPD and the communities it serves. That is why certain sections of the Consent Decree focus on the need for BPD to engage the community. The Monitoring Team intends to facilitate that process so that when our job is done, BPD and Baltimore's citizens will have built a self-sustaining relationship that does not require the aid of an outside facilitator, like a court-appointed monitor.

To engage Baltimore’s communities, we have established (1) an office at 7 E. Redwood Street in Baltimore, (2) a website, www.bpdmonitor.com, and an email address, info@bpdmonitor.com, (3) a telephone number, (410) 528-4670, and (4) a presence on social media, with a Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/bpdmonitor/) and a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/BPDMonitor), which we will regularly use to let community members know about our work. 

Two times a year, we will publish detailed reports on BPD’s progress toward satisfying the Consent Decree’s requirements.  Four times during the first year, on dates in April, July and October 2018 and January 2019, we will hold community meetings in different areas of the City to report on BPD’s progress. These will be followed by formal presentations to the Court (on April 13, July 26 and October 9, 2018, and January 10, 2019). Every year, we will also conduct a comprehensive community survey to gauge community and officer views about BPD performance and BPD needs. 

Additionally, as we have done since our appointment by Judge Bredar, we will meet informally with community members to discuss our work—with small groups, as we seek and receive invitations to attend meetings of community organizations, and with individual stakeholders. We will do the same with groups of police officers.

The Monitoring Team includes a community liaison, Shantay Guy of Baltimore Community Mediation Center, to facilitate our community engagement efforts.  Consistent with the input we have received from community stakeholders, our community engagement team will also include neighborhood liaisons in each of Baltimore’s nine police districts. The mission of the neighborhood liaisons is to provide Baltimoreans access to the Monitoring Team that is both localized and familiar. Through the existing ties they have with residents in their communities, the neighborhood liaisons can serve as the Monitoring Team’s initial points of contact for information and opinions about the performance and conduct of BPD officers, which the Monitoring Team will need to fully assess BPD’s compliance with the Consent Decree.


How will the Monitoring Team engage specific, affected communities, including African-Americans, Latinos, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQIA individuals, elderly citizens, returning citizens, and crime victims?

We will engage stakeholders from each of these communities like we are engaging stakeholders from throughout the City: by reaching out to leaders and organizations in those communities to discuss with them their experiences, views, concerns, and vision for policing in Baltimore.


Will the Monitoring Team obtain the views of BPD officers about the Consent Decree?

To ensure BPD achieves meaningful and lasting reform, the Monitoring Team must engage BPD members in the reform process-from command staff to first-line supervisors to rank-and-file officers. We regularly meet with BPD members responsible for addressing and implementing Consent Decree requirements. In our community surveys, we will include BPD officers to ascertain their views on reform. We meet periodically with police union officials to obtain their input. And we convene focus groups of rank-and-file officers and first-line supervisors to hear their honest, unfiltered feedback about what BPD does right, what BPD does wrong, and how BPD can most effectively achieve the Consent Decree's goals.


The community's participation in the Consent Decree process is vital. BPD can amend its policies, improve its training programs, and make a number of the other improvements the Consent Decree requires, but if, on the street and in practice, these reforms are not taking hold, BPD will not achieve full and effective compliance with the Consent Decree. The Monitoring Team is not going to know whether the reforms are taking hold without obtaining community feedback. BPD records, including reports and video evidence, will tell some of the story about whether BPD is compliant in a certain area of the Consent Decree, but they likely will not tell the whole story. The rest of the story will come from the community-obtained through community surveys, complaints made to BPD and its Office of Professional Responsibility, and reports made to the Monitoring Team.

While the Monitoring Team needs to hear from the community to determine whether BPD is achieving compliance with the requirements of the Consent Decree, we are limited by what the Consent Decree provides. We are an agent of the Court and do not have the power to require BPD to do things beyond what the Consent Decree requires. If community members say they want to see something that is not in the Consent Decree, the Monitoring Team does not have the independent authority to require BPD to do it.

How will community feedback influence the Monitoring Team’s assessment of BPD’s progress?


How will the Monitor Team publicize its community meetings and Court hearings?

The Monitoring Team will publicize community meetings, Court hearings, and all other public events on this website, on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and, where appropriate, through press releases to local media outlets.


The Monitoring Team's annual budget for all of its activities is capped at $1.475 million. In the first year budget, we have allocated approximately $370,000 for community engagement work, or 25% of the budget. That amount includes fees for our community and neighborhood liaisons, fees for other team members for their community engagement work, the cost of a comprehensive community survey, and miscellaneous costs related to community engagement, such as the cost of providing interpreters and refreshments at community meetings.

As with our work in other areas of the Consent Decree, the Monitoring Team has done, and will continue to do, a substantial amount of our community engagement work pro bono, or free of charge.

What is the Monitoring Team’s budget for community engagement?


How much time will each member of the Monitoring Team devote to work on the Consent Decree?

The amount of time budgeted for each member's work during the first year of monitoring is reflected in our First-Year Budget, which can be found on this website's Reports & Resources page.


Does the Monitoring Team review past BPD performance, such as resolved complaints of police misconduct pre-dating the Court’s approval of the Consent Decree, or does it only review BPD performance post-dating the Court’s approval of the Consent Decree?

To assess where BPD stands at the outset, the Monitoring Team is reviewing certain events pre-dating the Consent Decree-e.g., incident reports and video footage on stops, searches and arrests; use of force reports and video footage of use of force incidents; and internal investigation and disciplinary records. An examination of the records of these historical events will help determine the changes BPD must make to achieve compliance with the requirements of the Consent Decree.


Will the Monitoring Team assess whether BPD officers are presently adhering to existing BPD policies, or will the Monitoring Team only assess compliance with the new policies required by the Consent Decree once they are in place? 

The Monitoring Team will make preliminary assessments of BPD performance prior to the adoption of the new policies required by the Consent Decree in order to determine the extent of the improvements that must be made to achieve compliance with the Consent Decree. For instance, to ascertain the progress BPD must make, we will review certain stops, searches and arrests that are made, certain use of force incidents that occur, and certain misconduct investigations that are performed in the initial stages of the monitoring process.


Will the Monitoring Team assess revisions in BPD policies and practices to determine if they are producing greater racial equity?

Yes. There are certain provisions of the Consent Decree that either directly or indirectly require BPD to make reforms aimed at eliminating racial inequities. For instance, the Consent Decree contains sections on stop/search/arrest practices and impartial policing that are directly intended to eliminate the practice of racial profiling-i.e., stopping, searching, and arresting people based on their race. Another section involving interactions with youth directs BPD to use alternatives to arrest where warranted. This is a directive indirectly intended to address the school-to-prison pipeline that adversely affects minority youth. We will be monitoring BPD's compliance with these provisions.


Will the Monitoring Team publicly identify officers found to repeatedly violate the BPD policies that are implicated by the Consent Decree (e.g., policies on use of force)?

The Monitoring Team will assess whether BPD itself is appropriately disciplining officers who violate BPD policies. It will also help BPD develop, and ultimately assess whether BPD properly utilizes, a robust Early Intervention System, which is a system designed to identify officers who repeatedly violate agency rules. The Monitoring Team does not have the authority to single out and publicly identify individual officers who violate BPD policy.


Does the Consent Decree address the school-to-prison pipeline?

The Consent Decree has certain requirements relating to BPD interactions with both youth and Baltimore City School Police. We will seek to ensure that BPD complies with them. While the Consent Decree does not directly address the school-to-prison pipeline, it recommends use of alternatives to arrest and prosecution where appropriate. We will be evaluating BPD's compliance with those provisions.


How can community members provide the Court feedback on the Monitoring Team’s performance?

Members of the community may give the Court their views about our work as they see fit. Judge Bredar's chambers at the United States Courthouse in Baltimore have a publicly available address and telephone number.