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Judge on delay in Consent Decree: "inexcusable"

Harsh words by judge as he issues extension
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 17, 2018

Judge James K Bredar, who is overseeing the implementation of the Baltimore Police Consent Decree, is concerned the city cannot deliver much needed police reform.

In his response to granting a delay in some upcoming deadlines, the chief judge showed his frustration with the police department and the city, airing the concerns he has on the city's capability to comply with the agreement.

The extended deadlines surround what is a touchstone to the reform process; new policies for misconduct investigations and discipline, or internal affairs by any other name.

In an order published Friday, the chief judge called the accountability system within the BPD, “…completely dysfunctional and requires bedrock structural reform.”

The latest iteration of internal affairs of the Baltimore Police Department is called the Office of Professional Responsibility and was most recently restructured by now federally charged and former police commissioner Darryl De Sousa.

De Sousa revealed his organizational chart in a press conference on February 9th and split many accountability functions through several divisions.

Simply put, the monitoring team says Department of Justice police accountability reforms cannot be effective in the current set up.

Of it, Bredar said, “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 the city's own making.

The judge was referring to three police commissioners in six months by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh including the firing of Kevin Davis and the resignation of his deputy commissioner who engineered the original consent decree plan, Jason Johnson.

WMAR 2 News reached both for comment today.

Kevin Davis said, “Any consent decree is a journey. Continuity of leadership matters during the hard work of police reform. The loss of Deputy Commissioner Jason Johnson and Chief Ganesha Martin, in particular, is a setback. As Commissioner Tuggle assembles his own executive leadership team, things will settle.”

Davis' former deputy Jason Johnson also sent us a comment after reading Bredar's order saying, “I think Judge Bredar’s order highlights something we have known for some time: reforming the BPD will require sustained, empowered and visionary leadership. The work is hard; the issues are nuanced and complex and the kind of change needed requires strong advocacy at the very highest levels of the BPD and city government. Leadership decisions that are unduly influenced by the daily push-pull of Baltimore politics will only continue to threaten any progress toward achieving compliance.”

It is a threat the chief judge clearly sees himself as he ended his order writing, “BPD and the city must right the ship. The city must identify a strong, capable leader for the department and give him or her the tools and support necessary to achieve the requirements set out in the decree.”

Fresh off Friday’s filing, current leadership from the Baltimore Police Department met with Judge Bredar for a progress report Monday afternoon.

Sources say Bredar is still not happy with the progress of the original agreement or how it is being implemented.

Afterward Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle issued his own statement saying, “I am not going to get decision paralysis while in this seat,” and reassured the court that the police department does have the capacity and leadership needed to implement reform. He reiterated to the judge that there is thoughtful, intentional work being done behind the scenes to ensure that the efforts are sustainable.  

A BPD spokesperson says a reorganization of the Office of Professional Responsibility is underway.

WMAR 2 News reached out several times to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office for comment but have yet to receive a statement on the judge’s concerns.