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United States v. Baltimore Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 13, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES K. BREDAR CHIEF JUDGE.

         On April 7, 2017, the Court issued an order approving the parties' jointly filed motion seeking entry of a consent decree (the “Decree” or “Consent Decree”) to resolve litigation of the instant case. (Consent Decree, ECF No. 2-2, as modified by ECF No. 39.) Pursuant to the terms of the Consent Decree, the Court retains jurisdiction of this action until such time as the Court determines that the Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) has achieved “Full and Effective Compliance” with the terms of the Decree. (Id. at ¶493.) Now pending before the Court is the parties' Joint Stipulation to Amend Paragraphs 14, 33, and 67 of the Consent Decree. (ECF No. 85.) The Decree provides that the parties may jointly stipulate to make amendments to their agreement; however, any such changes are “subject to Court approval.” (ECF No. 2-2, at ¶ 494.) Amendments “will be encouraged when the Parties agree . . . that the Agreement provision as drafted is not furthering the purpose of the Agreement, or that there is a preferable alternative that will achieve the same purpose.” (Id.)

         The parties now propose three such amendments, each of which involves modifying specific due dates set forth in the Consent Decree. First, the parties stipulate that the Community Oversight Task Force (“COTF”) should be granted an additional three months to complete its charge under the Consent Decree. The Decree mandates that COTF provide a public report with recommendations to improve civilian and community oversight of the Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) “within 11 months of the Effective Date.” (ECF No. 2-2, at ¶ 14.) The Effective Date of the Consent Decree is the day it was approved and entered as an order of the Court-i.e., April 7, 2017. Thus, COTF's report is due on March 7, 2018, under the terms of the Consent Decree.

         According to the parties, however, “granting COTF additional time until June 30, 2018, will result in a more comprehensive, high-quality report and recommendations to strengthen the civilian oversight system in Baltimore.” (ECF No. 85, at 3.) The Court believes that all those charged with implementing the Consent Decree-including COTF-should move with all deliberate speed. By every indication, however, COTF has done just that. According to the parties, the nine members of COTF began meeting within the first month of their appointment on June 28, 2017. (Id.) Moreover, the parties state that COTF has “gathered information and conducted interviews with leaders and professionals in the field of civilian oversight and police accountability throughout the country.” (Id.) COTF has now indicated that it needs additional time to “complete its review, develop its recommendations, and produce a public report as required by the Consent Decree.” (Id.) In light of the parties' stipulation that COTF has been working diligently since its appointment, the Court sees no reason not to grant the parties' proposed amendment to the Consent Decree and allow COTF the time it needs to create a comprehensive public report of the findings gleaned from its extensive research. Accordingly, the parties' Joint Stipulation to Amend Paragraph 14 of the Consent Decree will be GRANTED.

         The parties also stipulate that the Consent Decree should be modified to extend the date by which BPD must satisfy specific training requirements for officers set forth in paragraphs 33 and 67 of the Decree. Paragraph 33 addresses training on voluntary contacts between BPD officers and the public, and provides that:

BPD supervisors will encourage officers to regularly communicate with members of the public, and the Department will develop training as set forth in the Training Matrix (Appendix A), to teach officers the best methods for such communications. Specifically, within one year of the Effective Date of this Agreement, BPD will provide training to all BPD officers that explains the value of proactive, community-oriented policing. The training will also teach officers skills and techniques that can be used to effectively engage in Voluntary Contacts aimed at building rapport with Baltimore residents.

(ECF No. 2-2, at ¶ 33 (emphasis added).) Paragraph 67 of the Decree addresses training on stops, searches, and arrests, and mandates that:

BPD will provide all officers with training on Stops, Searches, and Arrests, including the requirements of this Agreement, of no fewer than 16 hours within one year of the Effective Date and at least 4 hours on an annual basis thereafter. Such training will be taught by a qualified legal instructor with significant experience in Fourth Amendment issues, and will address Fourth Amendment requirements and related law; BPD policies; and this Agreement's requirements regarding Investigatory Stops and Detentions, Searches and Seizures, and Arrests, including:
a. The difference between various police contacts by the scope and level of police intrusion; between probable cause, reasonable articulable suspicion and mere speculation; and truly voluntary and consensual encounters;
b. The facts and circumstances that may be considered in initiating, conducting, terminating, and expanding an Investigatory Stop or Detention;
c. The level of permissible intrusion when conducting Searches, such as “Pat Downs” or “Frisks”;
d. The nature and scope of Searches based on the level of permissible intrusion on an individual's privacy interests, including Searches conducted pursuant to probation or parole release provisions;
e. The nature and scope of Searches incident to an Arrest;
f. Procedures for executing Searches, including handling, recording, and taking custody of ...

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