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In the Media: Health Dept Shares Health Disparity Plan; No Sign of Foul Play on Body at Morgan State

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A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Heading toward consent decree on policing, Baltimore activists prepare for opposition from officers’ union

"As the U.S. Justice Department and city officials negotiate sweeping reforms of the Baltimore Police Department, community leaders and civil liberties advocates are preparing for a parallel fight.

"The activists say they expect the city's powerful police union to use its collective bargaining agreement with the city and state laws that limit the ways in which police officers can be disciplined to block progress.

"They say they have seen police unions facing federal consent decrees in other cities throw up roadblocks to reform, and have watched the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 push back against change in Annapolis.

"'The DOJ really needs to make a choice,' said Lawrence Grandpre of the think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. 'If they are willing to actually deconstruct the systemic issues, or if they are going to do what's politically expedient and pay lip service to these systemic issues like the trial boards and Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights without actually changing them.

"'Which is why our strategy is to have the community push those changes. The DOJ can come along or not.'

"Lt. Gene Ryan, the president of FOP Lodge 3, said suspicion of the union is misplaced.

"'We're going to have to wait and see exactly what reforms they bring out, but we're not opposed to reforms,' he said.

"He cited the Blueprint for Improved Policing, a 2012 report in which the union called for increased training and less emphasis on data-driven policing tactics that critics say result in indiscriminate street stops and corner clearing.

"Investigators for the Justice Department reported this month that police in Baltimore routinely violated the constitutional rights of residents, particularly in predominantly black neighborhoods, in virtually all aspects of daily police work — including making unlawful stops, using excessive force, dismissing reports of sexual assault and harassing protesters.

"Attorneys for the Justice Department and the city now are working out the details of a consent decree to reform the department."

Read the full article at the Baltimore Sun

 

From The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore City Health Department unveils plan to address health disparities

"Citing race as the difference maker for many of the city's health problems, the Baltimore City Health Department has developed a plan to assess and address those disparities.

"In a report released Tuesday, the department outlined plans to cut health disparities in half in the next decade by focusing on four areas: behavioral health such as drug overdoses; violence; chronic disease; and 'life course,' which includes the often-cited 20-year gap in life expectancy between Baltimore's richest, white neighborhoods and poorest, black ones.

"Officials dubbed the report Healthy Baltimore 2020 because they plan to assess progress incrementally and not wait 10 years to say if they've reached their goal.

"The report speaks to much that has gone wrong in the city with residents' health because of historic racial inequality and economic and geographic disparity, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, the city's health commissioner. It looks beyond traditional indicators of good health such as education, public safety and the economy.

"'It's taken 18 months to get this process to where it is now because we wanted to make sure we had a cohesive framework to look at health issues in the city,' Wen said. 'You can name all the health issues in the city, but that would just be a list of problems and not a strategy. We needed something to tackle and to communicate our priorities to our residents.'

"Many cities have such blueprints for addressing vexing socio-economic problems as a means to address health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's last accounting of the nation's overall health in 2015 looked at such racial disparities.

"Baltimore's health department outlined what was billed as the city's first comprehensive plan to address intractable health problems in 2011. It targeted the top 10 serious ailments, including HIV infection and heart disease, adopting a model developed in New York City in 2004 called Take Care New York."

Read the full article at the Baltimore Sun

 

From the Washington Post: Police investigating body found at Morgan State say there’s no sign of foul play or trauma

“The body of a graduate student was found Tuesday inside a building at Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, according to police.

“The body had no signs of trauma, and police said they do not think he was a victim of foul play, but homicide detectives are investigating. A cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

“The call came in shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday to the Baltimore Police Department: There was a foul odor coming from a second-floor office on campus, inside the Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies building.

“Maintenance workers had found the body of a 45-year-old male graduate student.

“According to preliminary police findings, the man had entered the building  Aug. 4 and had not been seen nor heard from since.

“People who knew the student said he had been ill for quite some time.

“The building has been open and in use during the summer before classes resumed Aug. 22.

“University officials issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, which read, in part,

“The university is saddened to report the death of a member of its family. … Both Morgan State University Campus Police and Baltimore City Police are investigating this matter and have not released his identity pending notification of family. While the cause of death has not been determined, police do not suspect foul play. …

“In light of today’s news, all afternoon and evening classes in the CBEIS building have been canceled for today. Students are reminded that the University Counseling Center is available to provide assistance if necessary. …

“The university’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of this student.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post