BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently facilitated a discussion among Department of Justice (DOJ) officials and African-American community leaders about reforms to the Baltimore Police Department that they consider necessary to include in the consent decree currently being forged by DOJ to map out a path forward for the department. The roundtable conversation at the historic Orchard St. Church provided an opportunity to elevate mutual understanding among federal officials and organizations like the Greater Baltimore Urban League, 100 Black Men of Maryland and NAACP; representatives of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Baltimore City Council and Office of the Mayor; faith and business leaders; and academic institutions like Coppin State University, Towson University and Hood College.
Discussion participants suggested diverse reforms for the Baltimore Police Department, including the permanent elimination of the zero-tolerance approach to policing, additional training for officers on multi-culturalism and conflict de-escalation, equipping all officers with body-worn and dashboard-mounted cameras, and increasing internal protocols to hold officers accountable in cases of potential use excessive force or civil rights violations. Participants also suggested that police officers find ways to interact more productively with local residents when not on duty through sports leagues, community organizations and church groups.
“To ensure that the Baltimore Police Department’s standard operating procedures are both highly effective and fully protective the constitutional rights of the people it serves, community input is critical. I am devoted to creating opportunities to foster the dialogue necessary to shape reforms of the BPD that restore the lost trust between local residents and our police,” said Senator Cardin. “I also am fully committed to moving forward transformative federal legislation like the End Racial Profiling Act, BALTIMORE Act, and Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act that can dramatically advance police-community relations nationwide.”