Powers Consulting, Right Pick for Baltimore DOJ Monitor

Race and Politics

1811

On Jan. 3, 2000, Col. Ronald L. Daniel, a 26-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department officially took the chair as the BPD’s Commissioner, after being appointed by then Mayor Martin O’Malley. Fifty-seven days later, Daniel was out as commissioner, replaced by Deputy Commissioner Ed Norris, a Jack Maple disciple (Maple was the architect of the CompStat data driven policing strategy).

Norris was imported directly from the NYPD (the birthplace of “Zero Tolerance” or “Broken Window” policing model), by O’Malley just months earlier.

Allegedly, shortly after Daniel officially took the reins as commissioner, O’Malley plunked the zero tolerance policing strategy in front of him, demanding Daniel implement it. Daniel, a man with a sterling reputation for integrity refused and resigned as commissioner less than two months later.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

Norris replaced him first as deputy commissioner, then was confirmed as commissioner in the Spring of 2000. Not long after, the BPD began the draconian policy of arresting more than 100,000 Baltimoreans per year, the vast majority of them Black and poor, for several years in the early 2000’s (during the period tens of thousands were never charged with a crime or were victims of “illegal” arrests and the charges thrown out, yet the arrests remained on their records).

Several of Baltimore’s Black communities still haven’t fully recovered from zero tolerance.

In response to Daniel’s resignation and the burgeoning outrage from mostly Black communities over zero tolerance policing, Dr. Tyrone Powers, a former Maryland State Trooper and FBI Special Agent came forward with, “The People’s Plan To Dramatically Reduce Crime in Baltimore,” in 2000.

Some law enforcement professionals praised the People’s Plan as a viable, holistic, community oriented alternative to the zero tolerance model mandated by O’Malley. However, the People’s Plan never saw the light of day in Baltimore as a policing strategy.

Since then Powers, a national security expert and director of the Homeland Security Criminal Justice Institute of Anne Arundel Community College, has been one of the most vocal opponents of police misconduct, brutality and misguided policy, which have disproportionately and adversely impacted people of color and poor people.

Powers, who was born, raised and still resides in Baltimore, leads The Powers Consulting Group, one of the four finalists for independent monitor for Baltimore’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. Of the four finalists: CNA Consulting, Exiger, Venable LLP and Powers Consulting, only Powers’ group is owned by a person of color. Venable Law Firm, represented by Ken Johnson, (who Powers calls, “a good man”), is not owned by Johnson.

Powers Consulting’s 84 page application is beyond comprehensive in its analysis of the vital role of the independent monitor of the BPD, the Department itself and the city it is charged with serving.

This week, two community forums were held; one at Baltimore City Community College on Aug. 15 and another at Morgan State University on Aug. 16, for those with questions or comments for the four finalists. The BPD and the Department of Justice will continue to take comments about the four finalists vying to be the independent monitor for implementation of the DOJ recommendations until August 23.

For me it is clear who is best prepared to be the independent monitor of the embattled BPD; The Powers Consulting Group.

Powers has assembled a formidable team of law enforcement and criminal justice professionals including: Patrick Oliver, director of Criminal Justice for Cedarville University; C. Phillip Nichols, retired judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit of Maryland; Michele Mendez, senior attorney for the Defending Vulnerable Populations Project and Neill Franklin, retired Major for the Maryland State Police and former director of training for the BPD, among others.

Of the 22 law enforcement consent decrees implemented nationwide, only one (Newark, New Jersey) is monitored by a team owned by a person of color. Baltimore should become the second, because the Powers Group is simply best qualified to help the BPD reverse the nefarious course outlined by the scathing DOJ report. But, beyond his unequivocal expertise in law enforcement, criminal justice and national security, Powers led the Children 1st Movement, which sought to end the systematic underfunding of Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). He also filed an injunction in 2003 against the city and BCPS to have lead infested water fountains in city schools shut off.

I know, personally, that Powers has been dedicated for decades to providing a better quality of life for all Baltimoreans, especially the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“We truly see this as an opportunity to oversee and participate in real change in policing in Baltimore City,” Powers told me. “Constitutional policing and dramatically reducing crime are not mutually exclusive.”

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and host and executive producer of AFRO First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on WEAA, 88.9.