United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. Bredar Chief Judge
pending before the Court is the Monitoring Team's Request
for Approval of Certain Updates to the First-Year Monitoring
Plan in the Area of Misconduct Investigations and Discipline.
(ECF No. 120.) The Request seeks to modify some of the
deadlines set in the First Year Monitoring Plan (ECF No.
91-1) in order *"[t]o promote flexibility in the
implementation of the Agreement' and to ensure the
integrity of the reform process." (ECF No. 120 (quoting
Consent Decree, ECF No. 2-2, as modified by ECF No. 39).)
considering prior similar requests, the Court has wrestled
with the inherent tension between the need to move forward
with all deliberate haste and the importance of insuring that
BPD's reform measures are sufficiently thorough and
comprehensive to withstand the test of time. Quality should
not be sacrificed for speed. On the other hand, progress
should not be sacrificed for perfection. The Parties, the
Monitoring Team, and the Court all face a difficult challenge
in attempting to appropriately balance the need for both
short- and long-term reform.
request, however, presents a different and more troubling
issue than the previous extensions sought by the Parties and
Monitoring Team. Indeed, it validates a serious and growing
concern that the Court harbors. It has become increasingly
clear to the Court in recent months that BPD has serious
capacity issues. The problem in Baltimore, unlike in so many
other cities subject to federal consent decrees, is much less
about the willingness of the defendants to comply, and much
more about their actual capacity to do so. BPD and the City
have repeatedly conveyed their commitment to reform and their
willingness to work with DOJ and the Monitoring Team to
undergo the comprehensive changes necessary to achieve full
and effective compliance with the terms of the Consent
Decree. The Court does not doubt BPD's good faith, but it
has growing concerns about BPD's ability to
deliver on its promises, i.e., its capacity to
achieve compliance with the Consent Decree.
Monitoring Team's current Request brings these concerns
into sharp focus. The Request paints a troubling picture of
the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility
("OPR"), the entity primarily responsible for
misconduct investigations and discipline. The problems are
• "OPR has operated with a dizzying assortment of
units and sub-units, which has created significant
operational inefficiencies that introduce the risk that
investigations are not as timely, well-supervised, or
effectively managed as they must be." (ECF No. 120, at
• "OPR also does not necessarily include under its
jurisdiction all of the units and functions that address
officer misconduct within BPD . . .." (Id.)
• "[T]he same OPR investigators deal with the same
officers and supervisors repeatedly ...." (Id.)
• Though OPR and CRB [the Civilian Review Board] must
interact and coordinate to fulfil their respective statutory
roles, the actual process for guiding such interactions has
been ill-defined; no protocol for communication or
coordination between the entities has ever existed."
(Id. at 4.)
• "[T]here must be far greater clarity within BPD
itself for determining how supervisors are involved in
addressing problematic performance when it arises."
• The process that OPR uses to classify complaints ....
is simultaneously complicated and ill-defined, leading to a
potential lack of uniformity and consistency."
and most troubling, the Monitoring Team concludes that the
First Year Monitoring Plan's schedule for the revision of
policies and manuals concerning Misconduct Investigations and
Discipline is not feasible because "the precise
responsibilities of OPR remain unsettled." (Id.
at 3.) This is an inexcusable state of affairs well over a
year after the Consent Decree was approved by the Court.
Indeed, this discord is largely, if not entirely, of the
Department and City's own making. According to the
Monitoring Team, OPR is in a state of flux due to the
numerous changes in Department organization and leadership
(at the highest levels) over the first half of this year. A
lack of consistent, strong leadership can have cascading ill
effects throughout an agency; this is but one example of
that. The Department's good faith becomes almost
irrelevant if they otherwise lack the leadership, resources,
and capacity to follow through and achieve compliance.
Investigations and Discipline is a critical element of the
Consent Decree and of any well-functioning, professional
police department-it ensures accountability within the
Department and to the community the Department serves. The
Monitoring Team's Request reveals an accountability
system that is completely dysfunctional and that requires
"bedrock structural reform." (Id. at 5.)
The critical importance of this issue mandates that BPD's
misconduct and discipline system be rebuilt from the
foundation up to ensure it functions as a fair, transparent,
and robust arbiter of integrity. Given the magnitude of the
problem unearthed, the Court is compelled to grant the
requested modifications to the First Year Monitoring Plan.
the First Year Monitoring Plan IS HEREBY AMENDED and the
following policies and procedures SHALL BE reviewed, revised,
and submitted ...