Baltimore officials to judge: Don't delay police overhaul

Department of Justice lawyer John Gore arrives for the hearing

Credit Robert Lang Department of Justice lawyer John Gore arrives for the hearing

Jackson said that for all of Loomis' ballyhoo, the union has not come to the city to say it wants to dismantle large parts of the reform effort.

Consent decrees, which are enforceable by the courts, were put in place by the Obama Justice Department in such racially fraught cities as Cleveland and Ferguson, Missouri.

On Monday, Sessions called for a review for all investigations and consent decrees with troubled police departments initiated under Obama administration.

Sessions has repeatedly expressed doubt whether government-mandated police reforms work.


Advocates who spoke with The Stranger also don't seem anxious about Sessions' announcement. The memo also mentions Sessions' past comments including softening of the DOJ's approach towards reform.

"The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws created to preserve and protect civil rights", Prior said.

"It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage nonfederal law-enforcement agencies", Sessions wrote.

"Consent decrees are the means by which you provide a hedge of protection, civil rights and civil liberties", NAACP President Cornell Brooks said.

He said Justice Department officials made their request "without a whole lot of justification". The DOJ's ability to interfere with that process is limited, Smith said.

One example is the Mondawmin and Woodbrook neighborhoods of Baltimore, where tempers flared after local residents said police officers' behavior exacerbated tensions in the days after Freddie Gray's death in April 2015.

"They didn't have to do it this way", Lopez said. For us, the judge fully controls the consent decree. "That doesn't bode well".

"They can't reverse a court decision", he said.

Officials from several cities with reform agreements in place indicated that they do not believe that Sessions would disrupt progress.

Some police chiefs are vowing to continue with the reforms outlined in their consent decrees, regardless of who is in office. "We don't anticipate that there's going to be any major kind of change in what the city's doing and so we're going to keep working". In January, the city and the Justice Department announced that they'd reached an agreement to overhaul the police department.

A binding agreement with the court, he said, would ensure that crucial reforms to the city's police department, such as technology updates, increased resources and expanded training, can be implemented quickly and efficiently. The city also is in mediation with Justice officials on the role of the federal judge in supervising the agreement and how often the judge can require parties to the case to appear before him to report on the progress of the reforms.

"I think there might be a little hyperbole right now".

Under the three-month-old Trump administration, Sutton is encouraged to see the new Justice Department reviewing the consent decrees.

A separate Justice Department report declined to press federal charges on officer Wilson, saying that Brown was moving toward Wilson when he was shot.

The Justice Department began investigating Chicago police shortly after police released video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times.

A federal judge on Wednesday guaranteed that Baltimore residents will get to have their say on the proposed consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice by denying a Trump administration request that the hearing be delayed for at least 90 days. He says mayors eventually face political pressure to back off or even stop reforms.

"We can only speak for our intentions, we can't speak for the federal government's", the statement read.

"The DOJ recently told us that we are coming out of this cycle faster than anyone else that we've dealt with through all of these things", Hicks said.

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