“A Path for Rebuilding Police-Community Relations in Baltimore”

Over the last three years, police community relations nationwide have deteriorated to a seeming point of no return. Police shootings and other police malpractices have led to the deaths of unarmed inner city minority civilians across the country. In Baltimore, the death of Freddie Gray, resulting from a so-called “rough ride” in a Baltimore Police Department van, led to rioting in West Baltimore that went on for days in May 2015.

The serious economic and psychological damage to the citizens of Baltimore continues to this day. Soon after the Baltimore Freddie Gray riots were quelled, the then Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, called upon the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to begin a “pattern-or-practice” investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. Following the investigation, the DOJ released a scathing report detailing long standing patterns of civil rights violations by the Baltimore Police Department.

As a result of the report, the DOJ and City of Baltimore signed a consent decree to create systemic, across-the-board police reforms. The consent decree model has been used successfully in other cities to restore police community relations, and despite the resulting hopelessness and outrage over the findings of the DOJ report, the implementation of the consent decree gives us reason to be optimistic about the future here in Baltimore.

Michael Greenberger is the Founder and Director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security and a professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. The Center has a staff of more than 40 professionals and works on a broad range of cyber security/and crisis management issues for government agencies, universities and public health entities. Professor Greenberger also served as the administrator for a law school, social work and undergraduate course entitled “Freddie Gray’s Baltimore: Past, Present, and Moving Forward.”  Next fall, he will teach a course to undergraduates at the University of Maryland College Park entitled: “The Law and Policy of Inner City Policing.”

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