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Case Name United States v. Police Department of Baltimore City PN-MD-0008
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00099-JKB ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On January 12, 2017, the United States of America filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Alleging a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers in deprivation of people's rights under the United States Constitution and federal laws, the ... read more >
On January 12, 2017, the United States of America filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Alleging a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers in deprivation of people's rights under the United States Constitution and federal laws, the United States brought this action against the Police Department of Baltimore City and the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131–12134.

The action was brought following an investigation by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). In May 2015, the DOJ opened an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) after Baltimore city officials and community members voiced concerns about possible unlawful police practices. On August 10, 2016, the DOJ released its findings. The DOJ concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that BPD engaged in patterns and practices that violated individuals' rights under the First and Fourth Amendments and federal anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the DOJ noted BPD’s use of excessive force, retaliation, and unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests. The DOJ also summarized how BPD’s policies and procedures disparately impacted African Americans. Additionally, the report highlighted how BPD infringed on individuals’ First Amendment right to free expression, engaged in gender-biased policing when investigating sexual assaults, and used unreasonable force against those with mental health disabilities in violation of the ADA. These problems developed from poor training, policies, supervision, and accountability measures. The report emphasized the importance of rebuilding trust within the community and including Baltimore citizens in the reform process.

In response to the DOJ’s findings, BPD and the City of Baltimore entered into an Agreement in Principle to work on creating a judicially-enforced consent decree that would help resolve the problems uncovered during the DOJ investigation. The Agreement in Principle outlined several key areas that the future consent decree should address, including: policies, training, data collection, and analysis; technology and infrastructure; officer support; and community policing strategies. On January 12, 2017, the same day the United States filed its complaint with the district court, the parties filed a proposed consent decree and a joint motion for settlement and entry of the agreement.

The court (Judge James K. Bredar) provided an opportunity for public comment on the proposed consent decree and held a fairness hearing. During the hearing, held on February 1, 2017, the government asked for more time to consider the proposed consent decree, presumably in light of the change in administration, requesting additional time to “assess whether and how the provisions of the proposed consent decree interact with [certain post-agreement] directives of the President and the Attorney General." Judge Bredar's order entering the consent decree found this "problematic," stating that it:
"would be extraordinary for the Court to permit one side to unilaterally amend an agreement already jointly reached and signed. Moreover, early in the Court's review of the joint motion, but after the new administration was in office in Washington, the Government affirmed its commitment to this draft and urged the Court to sign it. The Defendants, for their part, continue to urge entry of the proposed decree, consistent with the earlier joint submission. As between the parties, this case is settled."
The court entered and approved the consent decree on April 7, 2017, retaining jurisdiction over the consent decree until its termination. 249 F.Supp.3d 816.

According to the consent decree's terms, it terminates upon the court's determination that the defendants have achieved full and effective compliance, and have (a) maintained such compliance for one year in the areas of the community oversight task force; interactions with youth; transportation; First Amendment; technology; and coordination with school police; and (b) have maintained such compliance for two years in the areas of community policing and engagement; stops, searches, arrests, and voluntary police-community interactions; impartial policing; responding to and interacting with people with behavioral health disabilities or in crisis; use of force; handling of reports of sexual assault; supervision; misconduct investigations and discipline; and recruitment, hiring, and retention.

On October 3, 2017, the court approved the appointment of Kenneth Thompson as the independent monitor of the consent decree. 282 F.Supp.3d 897. Over the next year, the monitoring team worked with the parties to develop a monitoring plan, and the court held quarterly public hearings and approved certain minor modifications to the consent decree, mostly in respect to deadlines. See, e.g. 290 F.Supp.3d 420 (D. Md. 2018). The first public hearing to review progress toward “full and effective compliance” with the Consent Decree was held on April 13, 2018.

The monitoring team submitted its first semiannual report on July 18, 2018, the contents of which were discussed during a July 26, 2018 quarterly hearing. Much of the first year under the consent decree was devoted to establishing an implementation plan, so the monitor's first semiannual report found that it was too early in the reform process to gauge BPD’s progress toward satisfying the vast majority of the Consent Decree’s requirements, because BPD was still in the preliminary, preparatory stage of reform. For example, BPD had not yet finished revising its policies, much less implementing and training officers on them.

The monitor did express a primary concern that, "although BPD and City leadership are, to their credit, fully committed to reform, it is not yet apparent whether BPD has the capacity to implement the linchpin requirements of the Consent Decree." Notable elements of the report included its emphasis on the need for structural reform of BPD's Office of Professional Responsibility, finding that BPD needed to revamp OPR's basic operational model to improve the fairness, objectivity, thoroughness, and timeliness of its investigations.

The monitor also highlighted the pressing need for a disciplinary system, finding BPD’s system for holding officers accountable for misconduct to be "broken." The report also outlined BPD's response in the aftermath of the shooting of a BPD detective, who was found dead in the Harlem Park neighborhood of Baltimore. The monitoring team conducted an independent review of the BPD's response to the shooting, noting that while it was too early to be a reflection on compliance, the BPD's actions did raise some serious concerns and would provide a vital learning opportunity to the BPD going forward. In evaluating the BPD's conduct in establishing and enforcing a perimeter around the neighborhood, the monitoring team had concerns about whether BPD command staff and supervisory officers were adequately ensuring adherence to Fourth Amendment requirements and corresponding consent decree provisions. The monitor found the response to the shooting to confirm the need for a culture change within BPD around stops, searches, and arrests.

As of August 21, 2018, monitoring is ongoing as the BPD works to implement the provisions of the consent decree.

Amelia Huckins - 02/12/2017
Sarah McDonald - 08/21/2018


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Baltimore City Police Department
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2017 - n/a
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:17-cv-99 (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/29/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Fact Sheet
PN-MD-0008-0016.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Request for Monitor Applications
PN-MD-0008-0017.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Press Release
PN-MD-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2016
Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Agreement in Principle Between The United States and the City of Baltimore Regarding the Baltimore City Police Department
PN-MD-0008-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/09/2016
Press Release
PN-MD-0008-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Press Release [Discussing Findings Letter from DOJ]
PN-MD-0008-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Findings Letter from Department of Justice
PN-MD-0008-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Re: Investigation of the Baltimore Police Department
PN-MD-0008-0014.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Executive Summary
PN-MD-0008-0015.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Resumen Ejecutivo [Executive Summary (Spanish)]
PN-MD-0008-0018.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-MD-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree [ECF# 2]
PN-MD-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree [ECF# 2-1]
PN-MD-0008-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 2-2]
PN-MD-0008-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Oder Soliciting Public Comment, Setting a Public Fairness Hearing, and Establishing Related Procedures [ECF# 17] (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 39] (2017 WL 1301500) (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0008-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Index: Public Comments on Monitor Applicants
PN-MD-0008-0020.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/17/2017
Index: Submitted Questions for Monitor Finalists
PN-MD-0008-0021.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/02/2017
Memorandum and Order Appointing Independent Monitor [ECF# 68] (282 F.Supp.3d 897) (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0008-0019.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Baltimore Police Department Monitoring Team - First Semiannual Report [ECF# 126-1]
PN-MD-0008-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/18/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bredar, James Kelleher (D. Md.)
PN-MD-0008-0012 | PN-MD-0008-0013 | PN-MD-0008-0019 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cheema, Puneet (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Coe, Cynthia (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Dixon, Monique (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Gore, John M. (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0006 | PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-0014
Johnston, Maureen (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0011
Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0006 | PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Patrie, Aparna (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0006 | PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011
Ryals, Stephen M. (Missouri)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011
Wayne, Seth (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-0008 | PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adegbile, Debo Patrick (New York)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Beck, Daniel C (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Blumer, Kristin Elizabeth (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Davis, Andre Maurice (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Gurney, Brent J. (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Harding, Kay Natalie (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Marrow, Glenn Todd (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Nilson, George A. (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-0006
Ralph, David E. (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-0011 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Sangree, Suzanne (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-0009 | PN-MD-0008-0010 | PN-MD-0008-9000
Walden, Elisabeth (Maryland)
PN-MD-0008-9000
Other Lawyers Rosenthal, Seth (District of Columbia)
PN-MD-0008-9000

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