Pugh on consent decree: We can pay for it | WYPR

Pugh on consent decree: We can pay for it

Feb 1, 2017

Baltimore Police Headquarters
Credit P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh told a federal judge Monday morning the city can afford to implement a consent decree aimed at reforming the city police department.

U.S. District Judge James Bredar asked Pugh to attend the first hearing on the decree filed in the court in January.  The decree was the result of an investigation that found Baltimore Police regularly violated the civil rights of citizens.

Bredar told city officials he had done his homework on similar decrees in other cities and that they often have a “blank check” quality to them.

He said he wanted to make sure that the decree was feasible for the city, which is why he invited the mayor to the hearing.

“I want to make sure the lines are clear before we go into this marriage or whatever you want to call it,” Bredar said.

Pugh told Bredar “It’s feasible and we will do it.”  She also said the city will respect a court order if a dispute rises between the Justice Department and the city.

Interim City Solicitor David Ralph said recently city fiscal experts have projected what implementing the decree will cost the city, but declined to specify a number.

During the hearing Ralph reiterated that fiscal responsibility was a regular part of negotiations with the federal government.

City and Justice Department officials spent much of the hearing going over details of the document; the first steps towards finalizing the decree.

Bredar indicated that he would take public input on the consent decree through a “two-step process.” 

The public would be able to submit written comments and to speak at a hearing.  However, the judge said it would not be “an open mic situation” and that people would have to register in advance.  The details still need to be worked out.

Bredar made it clear that once the decree is finalized “there is no opportunity for divorce.”