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‘Baltimore has made great progress:’ Baltimore Police Commissioner optimistic after consent decree hearing

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 18:54:13-04

BALTIMORE — Since the death of Freddie Gray and the Gun Trace Task Force scandal, the U.S. Department of Justice has had a long list of steps of improvement it wants the Baltimore Police Department to take.

Those steps are meant to be methodical and comprehensive with the goal of improving public trust in the Baltimore Police Department.

"My take away is that Baltimore has made great progress," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. "We have a long way to go you heard me I'm the first to admit we have a long way to go but we've made great progress."

After a quarterly consent decree hearing, covering a laundry list of required improvements across the police department, that includes integrity and accountability, staffing, training, use of force among other components, Commissioner Harrison said the department isn't fighting the process of progress.

"Officers are performing better. You're seeing more work being done, less force fewer complaints, better investigative processes and while there are things that happen because things always happen the department is responding responsibly when things are brought to our attention,” Harrison said.

Wednesday’s news drew criticism of the department after details surfaced surrounding the firing of a chief fiscal officer listed on the gun offender's registry back in 2018.

Baltimore police questioned that same individual in an open murder case.

“Once it was brought to our attention, you saw a swift decisive strong action taken by terminating that individual and that's what you heard me talking about inside. Building systems of accountability that inform us and when things happen what the department does about it right away and how transparent we are with our community about what we did,” Commissioner Harrison said.

The monitoring team and DOJ rated Baltimore Police Department's progress on different components.

Improving integrity and discipline remain in the training phase.

Implementation for Investigations and better transparency is on track so far.

Also on track for implementation are items like staffing, technology, training behavioral health, use of force.

The judge says with TV shows and headlines combined highlighting the dark chapters of Baltimore Police Department, he argues the department's progress could easily go unnoticed if BPD doesn’t share those improvements with the community.

"We've got to tell people what's happening with our police department to date," Harrison said. "You heard it from the federal government, you heard it from a judge. You heard it from the department of justice so its not us touting our own successes. There are other people doing it and so the million dollar question is how this translate to better crime fighting people not shooting each other not killing each other. That's other people's decisions so we have to fix how they think also while we fix the police department."

The next hearing is scheduled in July where the judge expects BPD to improve their ratings on some of the same metrics previously outlined.