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Federal Judge Overseeing Baltimore Police Cautions Against Defunding Department For Now

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A federal judge overseeing the Baltimore City Police Department said Friday new police reform align with calls to defund the police.

However, he's cautioning against defunding the department for now.

In Friday's hearing, the topic of conversation was trust. How can officers rebuild trust within the community as well as with each other. Officers said some of the changes they've been implementing are aligning with nationwide calls for change.

It's the latest federal court hearing on police reform in the city.

Every year, Baltimore spends $1.5 million on the consent decree- and Judge James Bredar said it is premature to reduce funding as they work to make critical changes.

"In our makeover, it is because the system was bad. everything from recruitment to hiring to policies to practice and protocols, supervising and technology," said Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

City leaders and lawyers from the Department of Justice discussed progress, noting improvements in training when it comes to sexual assault victims, transporting people in custody, and a new records management system that improves oversight and efficiency.

Officials said the city is also working to improve body camera technology, and social services.

The city was put under a consent decree back in 2017 following the death of Freddie Gray.

On Face the Nation, Commissioner Harrison said he expects Minneapolis to be next.

"I believe the Justice Department will in its investigation probably find patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing and its very likely Minneapolis will be under a consent decree as well," he said.

From 2019 to 2020, the department said their hiring of city residents increased by 88%, they also hired more female officers.

However, their work is far from over, noting several challenges including conducting timely and thorough internal affair investigations.

Members of the monitoring team applauded Baltimore City police saying that they will likely be ahead of the curve for police reform and can serve as an example for police departments statewide.

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