Tara Huffman, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice program, recently spoke to VICE for its story about the new urgency surrounding the expected consent decree between the city and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The consent decree is the expected result from the DOJ investigation of the Baltimore City Police (BPD) after the death of Freddie Gray that found the BPD engaged in “a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law” (see OSI’s statement about the findings).
Now, with new leadership both in Baltimore City and in the White House, and a November 1 deadline for completion long gone, many advocates for police reform are feeling pressure to finalize the decree as soon as possible.
OSI believes that DOJ’s findings affirm many of the grievances that Baltimore communities have leveled against the BPD for decades and that a consent decree can be an important part of implementing much-needed systemic reforms to the BPD. But they require constant pressure and continual effort for years to come. We have strongly encouraged community involvement in the development of the consent decree and we, like the six Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation, strongly urge Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and Mayor-elect Catherine Pugh, to work as fast as possible to finalize the agreement.