A consultant has started to evaluate the Baltimore Police Department's internal disciplinary system — a requirement of a multimillion-dollar settlement in a class-action lawsuit that alleged institutional race discrimination. However, his reports will be confidential.
James Outtz, who specializes in race discrimination and personnel practices, was hired a few months ago and is in the process of digging into police disciplinary data, said Peter D. Isakoff, the attorney for the plaintiffs.
His work could have broad implications for an agency that has struggled with policing itself; in addition to the lawsuit's claims that black officers were punished more harshly than their white counterparts, the department fired a top disciplinary official last year and dismissed internal charges against 40 officers accused of wrongdoing. Charges against an officer accused of shaking down an undercover cadet fell apart last fall due to questions and inconsistencies in the internal investigation.
But officials said Outtz's reports to Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III will not be made public, in accordance with the terms of the settlement. "All reports generated by the consultant, as well as any BPD responses thereto, are deemed confidential," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in an e-mail. "There is no provision for public reporting contained in the settlement agreement or agreement between the BPD and Dr. Outtz."
In Detroit, a civil lawsuit prompted a federal judge to appoint a monitor who has overseen reforms for much of the past decade. That monitor's reports are public, and the judge said this week that he would fine the city $1,000 each day that it failed to submit a plan to reduce a backlog of citizen complaints.
"In our view, we accomplished what we wanted with the settlement, and we're continuing to monitor the progress of Mr. Outtz," Isakoff said in an interview.
Outtz, who has consulted or testified in cases involving Abercrombie and Fitch, Boeing, Johnson and Johnson and Ford, declined to comment.
He is getting a late start after delays in finalizing his contract. According to the settlement, which was reached in June 2009, the consultant was supposed to have submitted his first written report to the police commissioner by Dec. 31, 2009, and should be receiving his first set of exhaustive disciplinary records on July 1. He'll receive updates every six months for the next three years.
The plaintiffs had accused the department of condoning a hostile workplace, blocking black officers from promotion, levying uneven discipline and retaliating against officers who spoke out against discrimination. The lead plaintiff was Sgt. Louis H. Hopson Jr., whose termination in the 1990s was overturned by a judge.
The settlement cost taxpayers about $4.5 million, including a $2.5 million payout to the 15 plaintiffs, and required the department to upgrade its technology and training.
Information sent to Outtz will be broken down by demographics and will include the substance of complaints against officers, the source of the complaint, and the findings of the internal investigations division and trial boards.
He's entitled to meet with police officials to discuss the information, and will submit reports to Bealefeld detailing areas of progress or concern, along with recommendations. Bealefeld is required to respond within 60 days, and if Outtz isn't satisfied with the response, he can send his reports to the mayor.