U.S. District Judge James Bredar, overseeing federally mandated reform of the Baltimore Police Department, is expressing doubt the department has the leadership ability or resources to implement the needed improvements.
The judge overseeing federally mandated reform of the Baltimore Police Department is expressing doubt the department has the leadership ability or resources to implement the needed changes, the Baltimore Sun reports. In an order granting an extension to submit draft policies, U.S. District Judge James Bredar questioned whether the department will be able to comply with the federal consent decree ordering reform. “The court does not doubt [the department’s] good faith, but it has growing concerns about the [department’s] ability to deliver on its promises, i.e., its capacity to achieve compliance with the consent decree,” Bredar wrote.
Bredar notes the department’s willingness to embrace change — something he says other cities have resisted, but he sharply criticized the turnover of police leadership and lack of resources. He said those factors could hinder progress. “A lack of consistent, strong leadership can have cascading ill effects throughout an agency; this is but one example of that,” Bredar wrote. “The Department’s good faith becomes almost irrelevant if they otherwise lack the leadership, resources and capacity to follow through and achieve compliance.” The police department, the Pugh administration and the U.S. Justice Department entered into the consent decree in April 2017 after a federal investigation found widespread unconstitutional and discriminatory police practices. Since then, the police department has had three different leaders. An independent monitoring team has been working with the police department and the Justice Department to rewrite police policies — from body worn cameras to stops and searches — which officers are later expected to be trained on. The monitoring team found it had to delay policies for the police department’s Office of Professional Responsibility because of the unit’s “organizational deficiencies.” It is expected to take several years for the department to implement all the reforms outlined in the 227-page consent decree.