It’s been described by officials familiar with it as “the best training program the Baltimore Police Department has ever known” — a special program designed to improve relations between police and mostly minority communities. Yet, according to The Washington Times, the Obama administration cut off funding for the Diamond Standard training program despite strong evidence that it was a success.
“The Obama Justice Department turned down a request five years ago to help the Baltimore Police Department save a training program widely credited for improving the department’s relations with the city’s crime-ridden and minority neighborhoods and reducing homicides and police-involved shootings.”
The Times article quotes a principal developer and organizer of the training, police consultant Adam Walinsky, who claimed that the failure to continue the Diamond Standard program helped contribute to the deterioration in police-community relations that preceded the riots sparked by the police-custody death of Freddie Gray.
“Once they stopped training the officers — stopped their interaction with the community, that all that was left was locking people up, and that’s what led to this whole Freddie Gray thing.”
“The program made terrific efforts to show our trainees how to work with all of these really lost, mostly young men in the black community. We gave them the tools to show them how to make friends in the community — not to raise the tension but to lower it.”
Reportedly, the now-defunct training program was championed by the previous head of the Baltimore Police Department. Ironically, it was that police commissioner’s success in using the program to improve relations between his force and the city’s crime-ridden, minority neighborhoods — the very program the feds failed to fund — that “led President Obama to appoint him to a federal commission on community policing.”
“The training program, which ran from 2008 to 2012, was a centerpiece of Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld’s tenure, during which period homicides in Baltimore reached a 20-year low, police-involved shootings declined and officers were pressed to leave their cars and walk their beats, and community relations improved.”
For its in-depth article on the demise of the Diamond Standard training in Baltimore, The Washington Times spoke with two unnamed officials reportedly involved with the program during the period it was in effect. They both lamented the loss of the training because, they said, it had such a positive effect. According to one of the Times’ anonymous sources: “’After every training session, questionnaires were collected. The department now has thousands of them that overwhelmingly confirm this was the best training program the Baltimore Police Department has ever known.’”