Baltimore's mayor would like the state to pay for federally ordered "police reform"

Back in August the Department of Justice issued a scathing report which found all manner of faults with the Baltimore Police Department. Their investigation was prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, but they dug much deeper and found “systemic abuse” of various sorts. They promised a list of required changes which the city would need to make and those are about to be codified in the form of a court order. There’s one significant problem with this system of federal review, however: the feds didn’t have any intention of paying for all of these costly changes. Now the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is getting ready to see that these reforms are put in place but she wants the state of Maryland to foot the bill for a lot of it. (ABC News)


Using other DOJ cities as a guide, Baltimore is figuring to spend anywhere from $5 to $10 million a year on reforms. It’s a projected cost that remains fluid until Nov. 1, when the deal is finally struck.

“Until we have an agreement, until we have a road map forward, we don’t know exactly how much it costs, but we do our best to give an estimate based on consent decrees around the country,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake…

In her annual fiscal and capital budget request to Gov. Larry Hogan, the mayor detailed what the needs of the city will be in the upcoming legislative session.

Chief among them is the soon-to-be court-ordered spending on the police department.

There isn’t even an official total of what all this will cost yet, but some of the initial figures being tossed around add up to more than $50M. Here’s what some of it will be spent on:

  • A crisis intervention team to train police how to deal with the mentally ill.
  • An early warning system to identify problem cops.
  • Renovation of outdated police stations.
  • Training officers in appropriate sexual assault investigation techniques.

The argument coming from Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is that Baltimore is “part of the state of Maryland,” and a chief economic driver of the state. So by that logic, Baltimore’s problems are Maryland’s problems and everyone should pay for the corrections to the city’s police force. But what this really boils down to is another massive, unfunded mandate from the federal government directly affecting the policies of the police, who are supposed to be controlled at the state and municipal levels. The DoJ has handed the city a massive project involving changes which are far from agreed upon in the law enforcement community as being effective and they haven’t provided a means to pay for them.

The cops aren’t under federal control. (Not yet, anyway.) Also, the police in each city, town and county are the responsibility of the elected leaders and taxpayers of those areas. The entire state is not on the hook for each city’s decisions. But even beyond that, the Department of Justice shouldn’t be allowed to hand down such sweeping demands and leave the people of the individual states to figure out how to pay for them. This is an unacceptable overreach of federal authority and the Governor needs to put his foot down before he sticks all of the state’s residents with this bill.



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