Baltimore Police Department Seeks Court Approval for Compliance with Consent Decree Provisions on Custody Transport and Officer Support

Baltimore Police Department Seeks Court Approval for Compliance with Consent Decree Provisions on Custody Transport and Officer Support

Advancements Towards Consent Decree Goals: Baltimore Police Department Seeks Court Approval

The Justice Department and the City of Baltimore have jointly filed a motion urging court approval, attesting to the full and effective compliance of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) with key provisions of the consent decree.

This significant move centers on the BPD’s consistent strides in meeting the objectives outlined in the consent decree.

Independent Monitor’s Confirmation

A recent report by the independent monitor on December 29, 2023, affirmed the BPD’s achievement of full and effective compliance with the specified provisions.

The motion, if granted by the court, necessitates the BPD to sustain this compliance for one year before potential termination of these sections of the consent decree.

Praise from Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division expressed satisfaction, stating, “We are pleased the Baltimore Police Department has successfully implemented the reforms needed to safely transport detainees in its custody.”

Clarke highlighted the rarity of injuries during transport, emphasizing the BPD’s now well-equipped, trained, and policy-driven approach to maintaining safety.

Background and Consent Decree Approval

The backdrop to this development involves a comprehensive investigation initiated by the Justice Department in 2015, triggered by requests from city officials and the community following the death of Freddie Gray.

In 2017, a consent decree was approved by the court to address identified deficiencies, particularly in transport practices posing risks to detainees.

Overhauling Transport Practices

Since the approval of the consent decree, BPD has undergone a substantial transformation, including the overhaul of its fleet, safety measures, data collection, and training.

Notably, during a 17-month assessment period, only 11 injuries were reported out of over 16,000 transports.

Key Achievements in Detainee Transport:

Safe Transport Vehicles: BPD revamped its transport vehicles, ensuring all are equipped with necessary safety features.

Improved Video Recording: Mandatory video recording equipment installation with regular inspections.
Proper Searches:

Policies mandating searches by arresting and transporting officers for detainee safety.
Enhanced Data Collection:

Implementation of a new records management system for real-time compliance assessment.

Auditing Process: Development of an audit unit reviewing documentation and video recordings for policy compliance.
Commitment to Officer Assistance and Support

Addressing another area of deficiency identified in the investigation, BPD has allocated significant resources to officer assistance and support.

This includes the creation of an Officer Safety and Wellness Section, partnership with an employee assistance program, and the establishment of peer support teams.

Consistent Use of Assistance Program by Officers

Over the past few years, more than 10% of officers have consistently utilized the employee assistance program, with 31% using it in 2021.

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