Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
U.S. | By Jeffery Vega

Judge Approves Baltimore PD-DOJ Consent Decree, Denies DOJ's Request For Delay

Judge Approves Baltimore PD-DOJ Consent Decree, Denies DOJ's Request For Delay

The Trump administration had asked Bredar to delay signing the decree to give them more time to review the plan created to root out racist practices in Baltimore's police department. Instead of forcing law enforcement agencies to abide by the dictates of federal bureaucrats and judges, the DOJ should "help promote officer safety, officer morale, and public respect for their work".

Bredar earlier this week denied a request from the Justice Department to postpone Thursday's public hearing. Despite Sessions fears, as Mother Jones previously reported, a recent study by police reform expert Samuel Walker at the University of Nebraska in Omaha found that consent decrees are largely effective in achieving long-term reforms.

Consent decrees became a hallmark of the Obama administration's Justice Department, with the Baltimore agreement finalized just days before President Trump was sworn into office.

The Justice Department has indicated that it intends to review all existing consent decrees to determine whether they hinder efforts to fight violence crime.

The future of law-enforcement reform for Baltimore's beleaguered police department is unclear after a Justice Department official said Thursday there are "grave concerns" over a reform plan between the city and federal government. But the locals, in this case, have embraced the DOJ consent decree, which came about as a result of intense civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and a devastating report, produced by investigators in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, on unconstitutional policing in Baltimore.

Gray's death was one of several incidents in the last few years in USA cities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked racial tensions and a nationwide debate about law enforcement.

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President Donald Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, promptly warned that the agreement may result in "a less safe city".

The Justice Department opened an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department in 2014 after the Baltimore Sun revealed that the city had paid out millions in more than 100 civil suits alleging police misconduct and brutality. He also said heavy scrutiny of the police is making them less aggressive and leading to a rise in crime in some cities.

Witnesses shook off the rain and walked one-by-one into federal court in Baltimore today to testify on the Justice Department's police reform consent decree with the city. And Bredar said it would be "problematic" to delay the agreement. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis was more blunt, calling the move a "punch in the gut, " and stressed "the necessity of constitutional policing" in his city. Last year, the Justice Department published a scathing report outlining widespread abuse including excessive force, unlawful stops and discriminatory practices.

The "public", made up of dozens of organizations and individuals, has already submitted almost 200 pages of comments on the proposed consent decree, with almost all of them (also not surprisingly) supportive of it. He's told his assistants to review the department's so-called consent decrees that require that various cities' police departments commit to plans of improvement and correction.

Need we be concerned with what Baltimore community activists think about the delay? Yes.

In a memo made public this week, however, Sessions ordered a review of all such consent decrees, saying the federal government should not be managing local law enforcement agencies.

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