The four remaining candidates seeking to serve as a monitor for the federal consent decree between the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Justice addressed questions about police misconduct and community trust during a forum at Morgan State University Wednesday evening.1
The forum, which served as the final public vetting in the selection process, included representatives of the CNA Consulting, Exiger, Powers Consulting Group, and Venable. The four survived a round of cuts that began with twenty-six applicants and will conclude after the city and police department forward their final recommendation to the Justice Department.
Baltimore Police and the Department of Justice
The monitor will receive a $1.75 million contract to collect data and review arrests made by police to ensure compliance with a consent decree signed with the Department of Justice earlier this year. The decree came on the heels of a report which concluded the BPD used unconstitutional tactics against the city’s African-American residents.
The current crop of candidates includes two groups with local ties. Powers Consulting Group is led by Tyrone Powers, a former FBI agent and director of the Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Institute at Anne Arundel County Community College. Another group is headed by local attorney Ken Thompson, a partner with the Venable law firm.
During the forum, questions from the audience were flashed on a screen and representatives from each group were allotted several minutes to answer. Among the questions the applicants faced was whether the former law enforcement officials who populate their groups could be trusted to hold police accountable. The community also raised concerns about the commitment by the applicants to include grass roots organization in the process.
Attendees expressed a variety of opinions about the candidates, and the process itself.
“I think one has a record of community engagement that none of the other three can match,” said Lawrence Grandpre, whose organization Leaders of Beautiful Struggle has endorsed the Powers group.
But Jacqueline Robarge, executive director of The Power Inside, a women’s advocacy group, said she was reserving judgement to see if the monitor system delivers promised reforms.
“I’m gratified the process is happening, but at the same time it would be easy to offer an answer that sounded good but may not be something that would be followed through on.”