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Local control of the Baltimore Police Department: How cities like St. Louis could serve as a model

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 23:10:19-05

BALTIMORE — The beginning stages of a historic process to give control of the Baltimore Police Department back to the city.

The Local Control Advisory Board (LCAB), a group of city officials and community members tasked with studying the potential transition of BPD from state to local control, met for the second time Monday.

“We are here to shepherd us into improving public safety and direct oversight into the police department," said Mayor Brandon Scott, who is one of the board members for the LCAB.

The group continues to do work towards the process of what a possible transition will look like and how it impacts the federal consent decree.

“We know we have to do this very effectively, efficiently, and in a way that is transparent and accountable...because we know how important getting control is," said Mayor Scott.

Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland to not have control over its police department.

Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation to let voters decide on if the city should control the agency.

“I think we have to address oversight and things of that nature," said community member Ray Kelly, who is also a LCAB board member. "I personally feel like we should be preparing to present a whole new construct.”

The LCAB is also planning to seek advice from other cities that have already gone through the process of local control.

Board members mentioned interviewing officials from St. Louis, which is a city that regained control of their police department back in 2013.

"It will be great to hear from St. Louis. but it will also be good to hear form cities that have been in one for a while and what does their local control look like," said Baltimore Police Sgt. Robert Cherry, who is also a board member.

The LCAB plans to invite officials from cities like St. Louis to their next meeting scheduled for Nov. 30th.

The board would use the feedback from these cities to help craft a plan on Baltimore’s transition to local control.

The group will also come up with a ballot question that could be up for a vote by next year.

"This only works if we convince the Baltimore residents to actually vote in favor of this question," said Kelly.

The LCAB also named Dana Moore, the city's Chief Equity Officer, to be the chair of the board. Community member Ashiah Parker with No Boundaries Coalition was named vice chair.