WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen with Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings, John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger (all D-Md.) issued the following statement after Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the finalization of a consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice and Baltimore City Police Department:
“Last summer’s DOJ report—which detailed systemic, repeated violations of the constitutional rights of Baltimore City residents—confirmed what many already knew to be true: the sacred trust between the Baltimore City Police Department and the people they are sworn to protect is in desperate need of repair.
“We are very pleased to hear that the consent decree will be filed in court today, and applaud everyone who worked diligently these past several months to ensure that these negotiations move forward with the urgency they demand.
“We look forward to learning more about the contents of this important document, and hope that it will provide the roadmap for reform the BPD needs. We must ensure that the basic human rights of every Baltimore City resident are respected and upheld by the police officers charged with keeping them safe.
“In the months and years to come, it will be on us all to ensure that the BPD and the City fulfill their obligations. It will also be on us all to ensure that our brave officers in the BPD have the resources and support they need to best serve our City. We stand ready as partners with Baltimore City, the BPD and the people of Baltimore to begin a new chapter in the relationship between the police and the community.”
On November 21, the Members sent a letter to Rawlings-Blake, Pugh and Lynch to inquire on the status of the consent decree negotiations after hearing growing concern from the community about the status of and delay in drafting the decree. The City began negotiating the consent decree with a stated goal of having it completed by November 1.
In May 2015, all Democrats in the Maryland’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Lynch in support of then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s request to have the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division open a federal “pattern or practice” investigation of BPD.