Consent Decree Basics

Download the Consent Decree Overview Brochure!

Learn about the Consent Decree with this easy-to-follow overview brochure. Find out the history of the Consent Decree, the topics includes and read answers to some frequently asked questions.

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On April 7, 2017, the City of Baltimore and the Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a Consent Decree, which is a court enforceable agreement to resolve DOJ's findings that it believed the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) had engaged in a pattern and practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and certain provisions of federal statutory law.

Read the order approving and entering into the Consent Decree

Acting Mayor Jack Young and the City of Baltimore will work together to reform the Baltimore Police Department and build the bond of trust that must exist between the community and the City's police officers. The goal of the consent decree is to have a stronger police department that fights crime while it serves and protects the civil and constitutional rights of Baltimore City residents.

The decree’s requirements focus on building community trust, creating a culture of community and problem-oriented policing, prohibiting unlawful stops and arrests, preventing discriminatory policing and excessive force, ensuring public and officer safety, enhancing officer accountability and making needed technological upgrades. Under the agreement, the parties will jointly recommend an independent monitor to the court to assess whether the requirements of the agreement are being implemented. The independent monitor will report publicly on BPD’s implementation efforts on a regular basis. As part of the process, the parties requested that the court provide an opportunity for members of the public and stakeholders throughout Baltimore to provide written submissions to the court about the proposed decree. The public hearing on the fairness of the proposed consent decree was held on April 6, 2017, wherein dozens of members of the community provided feedback and support for the consent decree. The Court then entered the Consent Decree the next day, on April 7, 2017.

Under the consent decree the City of Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department will work with communities to implement comprehensive reforms that will ensure:

  • Baltimore establishes a Community Oversight Task Force to recommend reforms to the current system of civilian oversight.
  • BPD adopts a policing approach that is community-oriented and based on problem solving principles.
  • Officers’ voluntary interactions are professional and courteous, and officers conduct all investigatory stops, searches and arrests in a manner that protects people’s rights.
  • BPD provides equal protection of the law for all individuals, including providing impartial policing services.
  • Officers use appropriate de-escalation techniques and attempt to resolve incidents without force when possible; use force in a manner that is proportional to the threat presented; and BPD’s use of force policies, training and review systems provide sufficient guidance, skills and accountability.
  • BPD transports detainees in a manner that keeps them safe.
  • Officers respect the First Amendment rights of all persons.
  • BPD investigates sexual assault thoroughly and without gender bias.
  • Baltimore conducts an assessment to minimize youth involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems, as appropriate, and that officers approach interactions with youth in a manner appropriate to their age.
  • Baltimore conducts an analysis of gaps in the city’s mental health system in consultation with a committee of behavioral health experts and service providers, and BPD instructs and dispatches officers who are properly trained in interacting with people in crisis or with behavioral health disabilities when a police response is appropriate.
  • Allegations of employee misconduct are fully, fairly and efficiently investigated; that all investigative findings are supported by the appropriate standard of proof and documented in writing; and that all officers who commit misconduct are held accountable pursuant to a disciplinary system that is fair, consistent and provides due process.
  • Officers receive necessary equipment, policy guidance, training and support to do their jobs safely and effectively, and BPD performs a staffing study to ensure a sufficient number of officers and supervisors.

For more information about the agreement between the United States, the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore and the Police Department of Baltimore City, please visit: 

The Parties

Judge James K. Bredar

Judge James Bredar

Chief Judge James K. Bredar was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1957. He graduated from Harvard University in 1979 and from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1982. He was a visiting student at the Yale Law School in 1981-82.

Judge Bredar was raised in Colorado. Before becoming a lawyer he served as a National Park Ranger. Following graduation from law school, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch in Denver. He then worked as a prosecutor, first as a Deputy District Attorney in Moffat County, Colorado and later as an Assistant United States Attorney in Denver. He also served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Denver. In 1991 and 1992, Judge Bredar was a Project Director with the Vera Institute of Justice and led their office in London, England.

Read more about Judge Bredar

Additional Notes:

  • US District Court for the District of Maryland since 2010; appointed by President Obama
  • He is the only one who decides if BPD is in compliance
  • Monitoring Team works for the Judge

Department of Justice

CAEAD (Compliance, Accountability and External Affairs Division) Overview

The Compliance, Accountability and External Affairs Division (CAEAD) is responsible for enacting reforms resulting from the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree in a manner that improves working conditions for police officers, increases public safety for communities, and strengthens the relationship between law enforcement and citizens.  The first unit of its kind to be created prior to the release of the DOJ’s investigative results, CAEAD is comprised of three units: Reform/Programmatic Support, Internal Audits and Assessments, and External Affairs.

The consent decree and other important documents related to reform are available by clicking on the links below:

For more information about the consent decree, the Community Oversight Task Force and the Independent Monitor please visit:

Monitoring Team

Under the terms of the City of Baltimore Consent Decree, an Independent Monitor (“Monitor”) was appointed by the Court in order to assist the Court in determining when the terms of the Consent Decree have been implemented.

The Monitor team includes individuals with expertise in policing, civil rights, monitoring, data analysis, project management, and related areas, as well as local experience and expertise with the diverse communities of Baltimore. The Monitor is charged to assess and report on whether the requirements of the Consent Decree have been implemented and to actively provide Technical Assistance to the City and the BPD in order to achieve compliance.

Read more here