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Monitoring team sets Baltimore consent decree benchmarks for first year

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)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The monitoring team overseeing the reform of the Baltimore Police Department will focus on reviewing and revising policies and procedures in its first year, according to a draft plan released Monday.

The policies scheduled for review include use of force; transportation of individuals in custody; stops and searches; impartial policing; misconduct investigations; First Amendment activities; and sexual assault investigations.

The “logical progression for achieving sustainable reform in each area of the Consent Decree” is for the police to establish revised policies in each area then develop and conduct training on those policies, according to the draft plan.

The policies were designed to address key components of the federal consent decree and prioritized based on community feedback, the attention paid to them in the U.S. Department of Justice’s findings report released in 2016, whether they are achievable in the first year, and the parties’ agreement that they are “ripe for early focus.”

The plan also includes a process for appointing neighborhood liaisons in each Baltimore Police Department district by April.

“Through the existing ties they have with residents in their communities, the neighborhood liaisons will serve as the Monitoring Team’s initial points of contact for information and opinions about the performance and conduct of BPD officers, which the Monitoring Team will need to fully assess BPD’s compliance with the Consent Decree,” according to the plan.

Review and revision of most of the named policies will be completed throughout the course of the year with public comment periods. Training on many of the new policies would begin in early 2019.

The monitoring team aims to have major policy, procedure, process and training changes completed by the end of the third year.

The plan is open for public comment through Jan. 29 and comments can be submitted online. A final plan proposal will be submitted to the court Feb. 5.

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