November 22, 2016

Baltimore Congressional Delegation Inquires on Status of Consent Decree

Members Urge Completion and Approval of Meaningful Decree As Soon As Possible

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-MD) sent a letter yesterday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Mayor-Elect Catherine Pugh to inquire on the status of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Baltimore’s consent decree negotiations.

The Members wrote, “We appreciate that it is no small task to ensure the decree fully addresses the DOJ recommendations and includes workable implementation steps.  However, we are hearing growing concern from the community about the status of and delay in drafting the decree.  We share those concerns.  It is absolutely imperative that decisive, steady, urgent progress toward crafting a meaningful consent decree be made a top priority by all involved.”

Following the release of the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s report on the “pattern or practice” investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department in August, the DOJ and the City began negotiating a consent decree with a goal of having the decree completed by November 1, 2016.

The Members continued, “We are writing to request: (1) an update on the status of the consent decree; and (2) an updated timeline for its completion.  We also write to strongly urge you to redouble your efforts to ensure that a meaningful decree is completed and approved as soon as possible.”

Click here for PDF of the letter, the full text follows:

The Honorable Loretta Lynch           
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Office of the Mayor
250 City Hall, 100 N. Holliday Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

The Honorable Catherine Pugh
2901 Druid Park Drive, Suite 200C
Baltimore, MD 21215

Dear Attorney General Lynch, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and Mayor-Elect Pugh,

We thank you for your ongoing commitment to ensuring that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Baltimore work together to improve policing in our community through the DOJ’s “pattern or practice” investigation.  The findings released by the DOJ Civil Rights Division in its report this summer, as well as subsequent input from the Baltimore City community, have reaffirmed that the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) is in dire need of reform and that the relationship between the BPD and the community is in disrepair.

We understand that the City of Baltimore and the DOJ are negotiating a consent decree as the next step in the process of this investigation, and had been working toward a goal of November 1, 2016.  However, that date passed almost three weeks ago, and a draft consent decree has still not yet been released. 

We appreciate that it is no small task to ensure the decree fully addresses the DOJ recommendations and includes workable implementation steps.  However, we are hearing growing concern from the community about the status of and delay in drafting the decree.  We share those concerns.  It is absolutely imperative that decisive, steady, urgent progress toward crafting a meaningful consent decree be made a top priority by all involved. 

We are writing to request: (1) an update on the status of the consent decree; and (2) an updated timeline for its completion.  We also write to strongly urge you to redouble your efforts to ensure that a meaningful decree is completed and approved as soon as possible.  We appreciate the significant time and energy required to prepare for the transition of a mayoral administration, but it is absolutely necessary that the consent decree be a top priority for all at this crucial time.  The safety of our community is at stake.

Thank you again for your devotion to the people of Baltimore.  We are eagerly awaiting an update. 

Sincerely,

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