Baltimore leaders want reform, say agreement is crucial

Nick Mcbride
April 15, 2017

"It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies".

"It's not about bad police officers".

The Obama Justice Department opened roughly two dozen investigations of police departments, and 14 of them ended in consent decrees, in such cities as Ferguson, Missouri; Miami; Cleveland; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Newark, New Jersey. Law Director Greg Hicks doesn't think Sessions's memo looking to slow or stop federal oversight of local police departments will impact the deal Warren has already reached with the Department of Justice. All of them are all still active.

Police unions, however, have expressed frustration with some of the court-approved settlements, known as consent decrees, and they welcomed the shift in policy.

Sessions has always been a critic of the consent decree process, calling them "dangerous" in a 2008 report. "Who gets elected does not determine how well we deliver police services", said Harrison, adding that NOPD is committed to fair and constitutional policing "because that's the right thing to do".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that he'll review the effectiveness of existing and proposed consent decrees. Numerous speakers urged the judge to sign the agreement. The DOJ's ability to interfere with that process is limited, Smith said. Consent decrees are aimed at "patterns and practices" within troubled police departments.

But Sessions as well as President Donald Trump are "law-and-order" politicians, defined by old school notions of getting tough on crime and giving police whatever they need. "After all, these injunctions are entered to protect the public interest", Smith said.

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"The NOPD consent decree, which benefits the New Orleans community and which is supported by the city and the police department, remains in place without change".

A federal judge in Baltimore has denied the Justice Department's request to delay a public hearing scheduled for Thursday on a pending agreement to reform the Baltimore Police Department, CBS News justice reporter Paula Reid reports.

A government attorney weighed in on the proposed consent decree at a public hearing as about 50 Baltimore residents lined up to endorse the reforms and complain of deep-seated racism, abuse and deadly force at the hands of the police. Leaders say they plan to reflect on King's legacy by pushing for civil right reforms.

Since Gray's death, the homicide rate in Baltimore has continued to rise, and the city has struggled to rid the police department of corruption.

Trump's drastic budget cuts would be a "silent killer" of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division.

Judge Bredar's Wednesday decision was applauded by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who have both pledged to press for reforms no matter what happens with the consent decree. The Justice Department has asked for a 90-day delay on this consent decree. This latest memo reaffirms this belief, that police departments don't have systemic issues, but are rather smeared by "the misdeeds of individual bad actors".

In Chicago, which does not yet have a formal consent degree with the U.S. Department of Justice, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Chief Eddie Johnson issued a joint statement pledging to forge forward with police reform.

Other reports by VgToday

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