In 2013 the No Boundaries Coalition identified improving public safety and increasing police accountability as key issues in CWB through a listening campaign with residents. We fought for and won police foot patrols along Pennsylvania Avenue through an 8-month long campaign that included multiple meetings with city leadership, letter writing, and community organizing. We also advocated for and were able to organize roundtable discussions between patrol officers and residents to improve police-community relationships. We have organized peace walks, marches and a National Night Out Block Party to promote public safety. Starting December 2014, we did another listening campaign where we asked residents about their interactions with police and what they would like to see happen to improve police-community relationships. From our listening campaign, we drafted legislation to reform Baltimore City’s Civilian Review Board. Our drafted legislation increases the power of the Civilian Review Board to hold officers accountable in situations of wrong-doing.
The No Boundaries Coalition is currently working to…
Document the pattern and practice of police misconduct in West Baltimore: The West Baltimore Community Commission on Police Misconduct is a community-created entity formed by several nonprofits including the No Boundaries Coalition, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), NAACP, and the Urban League. The Commission plans to: (1) collect evidence regarding police misconduct over the past four years, (2) hold public hearings to permit the sharing of these narratives in a healing and constructive environment, (3) prepare a written report by October 15, 2015 to memorialize the findings of the Commission, and (4) use the findings to craft and advance legislation that strengthens civilian oversight over the Baltimore City Police Department.
The Commission’s scope is initially limited to police misconduct in the Central West Baltimore area. The investigative process is being designed and supervised by a volunteer lawyer with 28-years of experience in conducting investigations. Ray Kelly, a life-long Sandtown resident resident, is conducting the majority of the interviews. The Coalition’s role will be to collect and document testimony from residents who have witnessed, or experienced, police misconduct.
Reform the Baltimore Civilian Review Board: Based on previous listening campaigns, the Coalition has already drafted legislation to reform the Baltimore Civilian Review Board. We have presented our proposed changes to over 200 residents at community meetings and have a broad base of support.
Since identifying needed changes to the Baltimore Civilian Review Board (CRB), we have worked with a lawyer to research the current law and have drafted a proposed bill. Our bill gives the CRB a staff to do independent investigations (currently investigations are conducted by the police department), changes the board selection process so citizens have direct input (currently the board is hand-picked by the mayor), sends the board’s recommendations to the mayor and police commissioner and, when needed, on to city council (currently the CRB’s report go to the BPD “unit head” who is only obligated to read the report and is not obligated to take any action), amongst other changes.
Advocate for community policing: The No Boundaries Coalition is advocating for a community policing model to be created and implemented in West Baltimore to create safer streets and improve police-community relationships. In our listening campaigns around public safety and police-resident relationships, the number one thing residents ask for is foot patrols. The cornerstone of our model is permanent foot posts in areas with open air drug markets to increase police visibility and deter crime. We are also advocating for relational meetings between patrol officers and residents, so that the community and police can begin to know each other. Last year, the Coalition successfully advocated for and won police foot patrols on Pennsylvania Avenue and saw a marked decrease in drug activity on the Avenue.