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Spending panel to approve Baltimore police consent decree

In this March 31, 2016, file photo, Baltimore Police Department Officer Jordan Distance stands on a street corner during a foot patrol in Baltimore. Baltimore police officers routinely discriminate against blacks, repeatedly use excessive force and are not adequately held accountable for misconduct, according to a harshly critical Justice Department report being presented Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In this March 31, 2016, file photo, Baltimore Police Department Officer Jordan Distance stands on a street corner during a foot patrol in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The City of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement on a consent decree that would lead to reforms of the Baltimore Police Department.

City officials announced Wednesday afternoon the Board of Estimates will hold a special meeting Thursday morning to discuss and approve the consent decree, which comes after months of “extensive negotiations” between the parties to address the issues raised in the Justice Department’s scathing report on the patterns and practices of the Baltimore police.

The Justice Department opened a formal investigation of the department’s patterns and practices after the death in police custody of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray. Six police officers were charged but none were convicted in the arrest and death of Gray, whose neck was severed inside a police van.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made statements last month that seemed intended to push Baltimore toward reaching an agreement with the Justice Department before Jan. 20, when the Obama administration ends.

Lynch is also scheduled to deliver a “capstone speech” on community policing at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Thursday afternoon.

The report, issued in August, found the department routinely deprived people of their constitutional rights and engaged in discriminatory practices. An agreement in principle was reached at that time but not the final consent decree outlining the changes to be made in department practices.

The details of the agreement have not been made public, but will likely mandate reforms to the way officers handle sexual assault complaints, and how they respond to juveniles and individuals suffering from mental illness. The agreement also will likely outline new requirements for training officers and ensuring oversight.

The police department has already begun addressing some issues outlined in the report, and equipped officers in the field with body cameras.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Tuesday that officers are now required to undergo 80 hours of in-service training — twice the time required by the state — and that new technology will ensure that officers receive, review and understand rules and policies.

Changes required by the decree will be funded by the city and police department through their annual budgeting and appropriations with the “timing and scope of the required funds” determined by court order, according to the memorandum prepared for the city spending panel.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in Room 215 of City Hall. Anyone wishing to speak at the meeting will be asked to sign in and state their name and community.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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