With Consent Decree Approved, Baltimore Wins and Jeff Sessions Loses

With Consent Decree Approved, Baltimore Wins and Jeff Sessions Loses

BILL GREENBLATT/UPI/NewscomU.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned a plan to reform and monitor the Baltimore Police Department may lead to rising crime in the city after a federal judge approved the agreement Friday over the objections of the Justice Department.

FILE - In this Tuesday, April 4, 2017 file photo, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, left, speaks alongside Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis at a news conference at City Hall in Baltimore, in response to the Department of Justice's request for a 90-day delay of a hearing on its proposed overhaul of the Baltimore Police Department. They're expensive. Sometimes law enforcement agencies backslide after the feds leave.

John Gore, representing the Justice Department, had attempted and failed to delay the hearing. The brief-which was signed, no doubt reluctantly, by some of the same Civil Rights Division lawyers who worked on the reform plan during the Obama administration-asked Bredar to postpone an upcoming hearing that was scheduled to take place just three days later. They shouldn't be. Consent decrees provide training and tools that help officers do their jobs more safely and professionally.

The police department said in a statement that the consent decree will "support and, in fact, accelerate many needed reforms in the areas of training, technology and internal accountability systems". Sessions claims the review of these agreements, known as consent decrees, is meant to ensure that they "do not work against the Trump administration's goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crimes".

It matters not whether the "Consent Decree" between the Baltimore City Police and the U.S. Justice Department is delayed.

The investigation, launched after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody, identified racial bias "at every stage" of the police department.

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

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Sessions claimed the agreement had been hastily put together in the final days of the Obama administration-and indeed it was finalized shortly before President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

The 2016 report found evidence of systemic racism in the Baltimore Police Department. The Obama administration launched dozens of civil rights investigations into local police departments across the US, finding systemic constitutional violations in cities including Chicago, Cleveland, and Ferguson, Missouri.

In August, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report on its investigation of systematic discrimination and constitutional rights violations in the Baltimore Police Department. "The simple answer to both questions is 'yes.' It is clear that the requirements of the consent decree dramatically changed the culture of the Bureau of Police".

On Thursday, a federal district judge waved off Sessions' concerns in OK'ing the Baltimore decree. Numerous agreements and prohibitions are judgment calls where officials and judges usually agree with the officer.

Some police chiefs have acknowledged that the consent decrees are necessary and are vowing to continue with the reforms outlined in their consent decrees, regardless of who is in office.

"I'm afraid the consequences are worse when the police are present and that's not healthy for me and my family", she said, also supporting the consent decree.

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