Tag Archives: police

Baltimore’s DOJ police consent decree

Yesterday the city of Baltimore signed a 227-page consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice putting the city’s police department under wide-ranging federal control for the indefinite future (earlier).

The decree (document; summary of high points) mingles some terms that rise to genuine constitutional significance with others that no court would have ordered, and yet others that appear not to be requirements of the law at all, but at most best practices. Many are virtually or entirely unenforceable (“professional and courteous” interaction with citizens). Whether or not the decree results in the less frequent violation of citizens’ rights, it is certain to result in large amounts of new spending and in the extension of the powers of lawyers working for various parties.

In November David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines, the criminal justice website, wrote this opinion piece about the failure of DoJ police reform consent decrees to live up to the high claims often made for them (more: Scott Shackford, Reason). Our consent decrees tag traces the problems with these devices in a variety of public agencies such as those handling children’s and mental health services, as well as the budgetary rigidity they often impose.

Since Congress passed enabling legislation in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, the Washington Post and Frontline reported in a 2015 investigation, “Twenty-six [police] investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.” As of that point only Ohio, at 4 agreements, had had more than Maryland, at 3.

This 2008 report from the Alabama Policy Institute by Michael DeBow, Gary Palmer, and John J. Park, Jr. takes a critical view of the decrees’ use in institutional reform litigation (not specifically police), and comes with a foreword by Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the nominee to replace Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the U.S. Speaking of which, there’s something so weird about some liberals’ eagerness to hand the keys to big-city police departments over to Mr. Sessions. It’s as if they think once Main Justice is calling the shots it won’t think of using that leverage on issues like, say, sanctuary cities.

[cross-posted from Overlawyered. Note also Reuters’ new investigation of police union contracts, and related coverage in the Baltimore Sun (McSpadden case), Ed Krayewski/Reason (three years to fire misbehaving cop), and more Sun (deadly effects of police slowdown)]

Leave a comment

Filed under Policy, Scandals

In miniature, January 4

  • May 2015 work slowdown by Baltimore police may have led to long-term higher crime rate [Daniel Bier/FEE, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution] “11 Incredible Findings from the Report on Baltimore PD” [Bier, FEE]
  • Claim: lawmakers can “give” private employees paid parental leave and “there’s no added cost to employers” [Kate Ryan, WTOP citing views of Montgomery County, Maryland council member Tom Hucker]
  • Irony alert: Get-money-out-of-politics measure passes 53-47 in Howard County after backers outspend foes 10-1 [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
  • “FBI fingerprinting for Uber and Lyft in Maryland would do more harm than good” [Washington Post letter to editor from Arthur Rizer, R Street Institute]
  • “Economist: Baltimore Minimum Wage Bill Punishes Small Business Growth” [Connor Wolf]
  • Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations [Maryland Reporter]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, August 27

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Roundups

In miniature, July 29

  • “It ought to be possible to terminate cops short of criminal convictions for incidents like that involving Gray’s” [Ed Krayewski; more from Reason on police unions here, here, and here]
  • Will national Dems throw away redistricting issue by installing Martin O’Malley, author of nation’s worst gerrymander, as DNC chair? [Baltimore Fishbowl, Jonathan Shurberg/Maryland Scramble] Despite discomfort in Annapolis, it’s “in Democrats’ best interests to fight gerrymandering on all fronts” [Eli Briody-Pavlik, Maryland Reporter] Gerrymandering’s effect within a party can be as powerful as its effect in contests between parties [J. Miles Coleman on District 8 Dem primary]
  • 5-part series on StingRay [cell phone tracking] use in Maryland law enforcement [Courtney Mabeus, Maryland Reporter]
  • Should create an opening for the local GOP, right? Montgomery County plans a massive 8.7 percent property tax hike with spending binge to match [Adam Pagnucco, The Seventh State]
  • Homeowners in Cumberland, Md., resist city’s eminent domain plans [Save Rolling Mill via Institute for Justice]
  • I criticized “Grace’s Law,” the Maryland statute criminalizing some online actions causing distress to minors, at the time; now a Eugene Volokh amicus challenges it on First Amendment grounds [Volokh Conspiracy]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, June 23

Leave a comment

Filed under Roundups

LEOBR reform not going well this session

Supposed reforms to Maryland’s notorious Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) law could leave police unions with even more power than now [Washington Times, Washington Post] ACLU of Maryland report on how the law, along with the Baltimore police union contract, serve as obstacles to officer accountability [press, more] Last year, the filing of charges in the Freddie Gray case “enraged the police rank and file, who pulled back” from arrests and engagement with lethal consequences for the Baltimore crime rate; but was the work-to-rule really based on a well-founded fear of being prosecuted over good police practice? [Richard Oppel/New York Times, NYT “Room for Debate” and more, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution]

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Policy

In miniature, January 24

  • Montgomery County officials helped plant letters praising speed cameras in local press [The Newspaper]
  • After state panel recommends 22 steps to improve police-community relations, Fraternal Order of Police rejects “any and all” reforms [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Earlier: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recommends 11 changes to LEOBR police “bill of rights” law [Baltimore Sun, text of letter, previously October and more]
  • “Why Beretta is moving its gun factory to Tennessee” [CNN]
  • “10 Things I Learn Reading Jury Verdicts and Settlements” [Ronald Miller]
  • “It’s time to stop prioritizing political interests over voting rights. We need independent redistricting reform.” [Rep. Donna Edwards on Twitter]
  • From six years ago, but still relevant: Len Lazarick, “Curing Maryland’s Structural Deficits: A Call for Mandate Reform” [Free State Foundation, PDF]

1 Comment

Filed under Roundups

In miniature, November 28

Leave a comment

Filed under Roundups

It takes 15 officers to defend Maryland’s LEOBR…

No surprise that lawmaker advocates would feel it advisable to bring in a parade of 15 officers to talk up the merits of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. It’s a hard law to defend! But if each of the 15 can succeed in generating maybe a little doubt about whether it’s as bad as it looks, maybe it can be kept going to entrench misbehaving cops for another few decades. [Ed Krayewski, Reason; Kevin Rector, Baltimore Sun on ACLU of Maryland criticism; earlier on law here, at Overlawyered, and at Cato]

More coverage: Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post; Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun; WBAL; Scott Greenfield.

1 Comment

Filed under Policy

In miniature, July 1

  • Del. Haven Shoemaker (R-Carroll County) rips vetoed civil asset forfeiture bill as one that would have benefited “criminals”; how well does he understand the bill’s contents? [my Overlawyered roundup on forfeiture law]
  • The limits of independence: Frederick County Public Schools could force leadership of classical charter school to accept unwanted staff placements [Frederick News Post]
  • Olney, population 34,000, and its many speed cameras [Dr. Gridlock, Washington Post]
  • “How Martin O’Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots: LEAP’s Neill Franklin” [Todd Krainin/Joshua Swain video interview with Neill Franklin, Reason TV]
  • Odd. @AnneArundelGOP seems to think it’s unfair to judge a public figure, county councilmember Michael Peroutka (earlier) by his public statements [The Seventh State, @AnneArundelGOP responds; more on Peroutka’s recent doings here (using title in his institute promotional materials) and here (continued involvement with Constitution Party activities)]
  • “The FBI Didn’t Buy the Baltimore Cops’ Conspiracy Theory” [Jesse Walker, more from Sun’s Colin Campbell on Twitter]

Leave a comment

Filed under Roundups