Baltimore News

Beneath consent decree, Baltimore police implement new course of: Cease, search, arrest

Under consent decree, Baltimore police implement new process: Stop, search, arrest

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021
WBAL-TV 11

The Baltimore Police Department has new policies in place intended to help officers effectively fight crime while building trust with communities.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison says his department is getting positive feedback from officers and the community. It is part of the effort to reform the police department.

Harrison says the training covers 11 different areas and one officer described how it is helping him on the streets.

“We’re not nearly where we need to be, but we are progressing at a good pace,” Harrison said.

Harrison provided updates on the consent decree Wednesday as his department continues working on de-escalation techniques, use of appropriate force, transparency, community policing and accountability.

The commissioner also announced implementing a new stop, search and arrest policy.

“To be clear, these policies do not handcuff our police officers,” Harrison said.

Harrison said the changes help officers effectively fight crime and build community trust.

“Taking that training and applying it to real world as you’re on the street, it gives you more avenues, more tools when you’re interacting with the public so you can take the appropriate actions,” BPD Officer Matt Cliningstein said.

The team that monitors consent decree compliance calls this an important milestone.

In a statement, the team cites the U.S Department of Justice 2015-2016 investigation of BPD that found the department was “Engaged in an unconstitutional pattern-and-practice of stopping, searching and arresting Baltimoreans without legal justification and based on their race.” It was this pattern and practice that reflected BPD’s “warrior” policing culture and eroded community trust.

According to the team, “Now is when the rubber meets the road: BPD must show that its new policies and training are having a measurable, tangible impact on the street—that its officers are treating community members with respect and carrying out their core law enforcement duties fairly and constitutionally.”

“We will continue to transform our department into one that the community wants, needs and most importantly deserves,” the commissioner said.

When asked at the briefing, Harrison said he supports amending the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights.

“And as the police commissioner, I have, as any CEO, the final say on discipline, and that I am able to take disciplinary action when they step outside of the law. training and policy, and if actions are so egregious, I can take swift and decisive action,” he said.

WBAL-TV 11 News did contact the Baltimore City police union for comment on the new policy. The union told 11 News it is still studying it.

The Baltimore Police Consent Decree Monitoring Team released a statement regarding the policy changes, saying: “The Baltimore Police Department’s completion of training and corresponding activation of revised policies on stops, searches and arrests are an important milestone along its path to Consent Decree compliance. In its investigation in 2015-16, the Department of Justice found that BPD was engaged in an unconstitutional pattern-and-practice of stopping, searching and arresting Baltimoreans without legal justification and based on their race. Perhaps more than anything else, it was this pattern-and-practice that reflected BPD’s ‘warrior’ policing culture and eroded community trust.

“Now is when the rubber meets the road: BPD must show that its new policies and training are having a measurable, tangible impact on the street — that its officers are treating community members with respect and carrying out their core law enforcement duties fairly and constitutionally. Particularly with the implementation this spring of BPD’s new record management system, which at long last will enable comprehensive assessment of officer actions in a relational electronic database, the Monitoring Team will focus increasingly on evaluating BPD’s stop, search and arrest practices. Improvements in this area are indispensable to building BPD’s legitimacy, fostering community trust and, ultimately, achieving compliance with the Consent Decree.”

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