Under the terms of Baltimore’s Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), an independent monitor must be selected to assist the Court in the implementation of the terms of the Consent Decree. The Court (in this case, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar), the City, DOJ and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), are scheduled to make a final selection of the Monitor on Sept. 15. The selection process started out with 26 teams and the list was cut down to six, then four and then allegedly two: Exiger and Powers Consulting Group.
However, recently the website established to allegedly make the process of selecting the Monitor more transparent published this statement:
“After extensive consultation between the parties, and between the parties and the Court during recent telephone status conferences, the parties conclude that none of the finalist teams have all of the appropriate experience and expertise for each of the key aspects of a successful monitorship of the Consent Decree.”
To suggest that none of the teams that were part of the selection process are fully qualified to operate as Baltimore’s Monitor for implementation of the Consent Decree is worst than insulting.
“There were a number of qualified teams, it started with 24, went down to six, then went down to four, and I would suggest to you that certainly the final four and maybe more than that, the final six had all of the expertise required…there were a number of teams that had all of the elements,” said Dr. Tyrone Powers during an interview on Sept. 11, on “First Edition.” Dr. Powers is the leader of the Powers Consulting Group. He is also the director of the Homeland Security Criminal Justice Institute of Anne Arundel Community College. He’s a former FBI Special Agent, former Maryland State Trooper and main architect of “The People’s Plan to Dramatically Reduce Crime in Baltimore,” crafted in 2000 in response to the draconian zero tolerance policing policy implemented in 1999. Back in August in this column I also wrote the following about Powers and his team:
For me it is clear who is best prepared to be the independent monitor of the embattled BPD; The Powers Consulting Group, LLC. 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.
Yet, the “conclusion” by the entities presiding over the process, is that none of the teams are fully qualified.
“The judge…is trying to control and have power over this whole thing. And what he’s essentially done by moving towards assembling…putting teams together, is he’s taken the public out of the scenario,” Powers said. “Because the public had the opportunity to interview teams, they looked at the teams, they looked at their plans, they looked at their budgets and they had the opportunity to question those teams,” he added. “So, now…you speak an untruth about saying they didn’t have the expertise and qualifications…that makes no logical sense that’s just a way of appeasing the public.”
Powers contends the process of selecting the Independent Monitor has perhaps been inherently biased in nearly every scenario where Consent Decrees were established.
“Out of 22 consent decrees in the United States, most of them involved Black communities or Latino communities, there’s only been one (Newark, NJ.) Black firm that’s been selected. So, they always bring in others to monitor our communities…they’ve always said, `We know what’s best for you,’” Powers said. “So, a Black firm can’t monitor it…that’s so condescending and paternalistic…you can participate, but you can’t control it even when it involves your community. That’s just disrespectful to the people.”
And, perhaps, racist.
In the grand scheme of things, the actions of the parties presiding over the selection of the Independent Monitor suggest we, Black people, don’t have the capacity to deal with our own issues. Our mostly Black, mostly poor city has been disproportionately impacted by the misconduct of law enforcement and specifically police brutality. The searing DOJ report (prompted after the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent uprising) stated that empirically. Yet, a Black man born and raised in Baltimore, with impeccable credentials and the prodigious team he has assembled is somehow unqualified?
This feels like the 21st century embodiment of the seemingly archaic notion, “White man’s burden.”
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.