An op-ed co-authored by BGL attorney and chair of the Baltimore Action Team at Jews United for Justice, Lauren Kelleher, has been published by The Baltimore Sun. The commentary, entitled, “The voters have spoken: Put Baltimore’s police department back in the city’s hands now, not next year,” highlights the urgent need for Baltimore CIty to regain legislative oversight of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).
As highlighted in the op-ed, Baltimore is the only locality in Maryland, and one of only two localities in the entire country, that does not control its own police department. Since 1860, the Maryland General Assembly has held the exclusive power to legislate any reforms to how the BPD operates. Even in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death and the 2015 uprising, and after each subsequent example of BPD and departments across the country using brutal and deadly force against residents Baltimore’s elected officials have remained helpless to change the policies and procedures under which the BPD operates.
Despite over 82 percent of Baltimoreans voting in November 2022 to give the City Council the power to regulate its own police department, Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration indicated that they plan to delay implementation of local control until 2024. This delay directly contradicts the urgency for local control that Mayor Scott asserted in an op-ed about the matter in 2018.
The commentary highlights that local communities historically impacted by oppressive policing in Baltimore City — particularly Black, trans, immigrant and poor communities — have had little to no influence or representation in matters concerning the police department. November’s overwhelming vote in favor of change reflects that residents demand a change.
Lauren joined Brown, Goldstein & Levy in February 2022. Before joining the firm, she served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division where she investigated and litigated against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic, including work on the Purdue bankruptcy. She also has experience representing individuals and groups of plaintiffs in workplace discrimination and harassment cases as well as consumers in products and financial services litigation.