Reforming the Force
Can a broken police department operating under a federal consent decree be repaired? Baltimore police think a focus on people, training and technology will work, but critics aren’t so sure.
A long road back
Baltimore’s police department is broken. The city struck a deal with the Justice Department to fix it. Now comes the hard part.
“...make sure the police are working for the good of the citizens...”
“A long history of racism…”
“I just don’t have any faith in them.”
“Baltimore Police, they cool.”
“You’re never treated fair.”
“I have been on the receiving end...”
“I want to avoid them.”
“They are underresourced.”
“When slaves were beginning to be freed...”
“...I’m concerned about the racism...”
“...it’s the police’s word against a black young man’s...”
“Security and safety.”
“They’re not really protecting as much as they should.”
Unreliable police data obscures tracking of racial profiling
Do Maryland police target minorities? The data should tell us, but it can't.
A Baltimore police officer kills a black serviceman, sparking protests over police brutality. The backlash led to the appointment of the city’s first black officers.
A 600-page report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police condemns the Baltimore police for poor management, discriminatory practices and internal corruption.
Riots erupt in the majority-black neighborhoods of Baltimore after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Black officers in the Baltimore Police Department create the Vanguard Justice Society to advocate for minority officers’ rights. The society wins a lawsuit against the city seven years later over discriminatory practices, and minorities are hired and promoted as a result.
Bishop L. Robinson is appointed Baltimore's police commissioner, the first African-American named to the job.
Kurt L. Schmoke becomes the first black candidate elected mayor and brings community policing to the city’s police department.
Baltimore removes residency requirements for officers. By 2015, only 21 percent of the force will live in the city, with others residing in neighboring counties or states.
Martin O’Malley is elected mayor of Baltimore and brings data-driven decision-making to the police department. The department tracks crimes and officers’ arrests and operates under a “broken window policy” of going after minor crimes to stave off major ones.
Baltimore police ranks fall below 3,500 for the first time since the data were first collected in 1995.
Tyrone West dies after a struggle with police during a traffic stop in Northeast Baltimore. The family settled a wrongful-death lawsuit four years later for $1 million.
Freddie Gray dies from spinal cord injuries incurred a week earlier while riding in a police van after his arrest. On the day of his funeral, a riot erupted in the streets near his home. Six officers involved in his arrest and transport were charged, but all were acquitted or had charges dropped.
Homicides in Baltimore surpass 300 in a year for the first time since 1998.
The Department of Justice releases a 164-page report detailing “a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the U.S. Constitution and its laws” and discrimination against black civilians.
The City of Baltimore and the Department of Justice formally enter into a consent decree to reform the police department and address the discriminatory and unconstitutional practices detailed in the 2016 Justice report.
Police and universities collaborate on reforms
In Baltimore and Prince George’s County, researchers are advising police as they attempt to rebuild trust with residents
Baltimore’s police are looking for new ways to attract recruits
Baltimore police numbers have fallen amid increase in homicides, publicity about police shootings
A big job for the Texan at the center of the consent decree
Ganesha Martin, neither a police officer nor a Baltimorean, is the face of police reform for many residents
Baltimore goes back to basics to improve technology
With the new technology mandated by the consent decree come new challenges