Justice Department seeks delay on Baltimore police reform process

It requested a 90-day pause to "review and assess" its proposed agreement with the Baltimore police department.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  April 4, 2017 at 7:30 AM
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April 4 (UPI) -- The Justice Department asked a federal court to delay a hearing on a 90-day consent decree with Baltimore's Police Department.

In a motion filed Monday, the DOJ asked for a pause to "review and assess" the proposed police reform consent decree agreement, which was reached between the Justice Department and the city of Baltimore after a year-long investigation found the city's police department engaged in a pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional policing. Investigators found that police officers routinely violated residents' rights, predominantly in black neighborhoods. Officers used excessive force and mistreated young residents, people with mental disabilities, protesters and sexual assault victims. The decree calls for binding reforms to the police department, likely costing the city millions of dollars to implement.

The hearing, scheduled for Thursday before Judge James K. Breder, was scheduled for the public to offer input on the proposed decree. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said that she and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis oppose the delay, adding that "any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish."

The request came after a memo Friday from Sessions' office in which U.S. attorneys were told that policing state and local law enforcement agencies is not the responsibility of the federal government. It called on the Justice Department to review all consent decrees across the country.

Sessions has publicly opposed federal investigations and consent decrees as a means of reforming police departments, CBS News reported. Supporters of the deal believe a retreat from the Baltimore agreement, made in January at the end of the Obama administration, can be interpreted as a sign the administration of President Donald Trump will reverse the Obama-era policies of Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, which made local police department reform a priority.

"We know that reform is not important to this president or to his attorney general," commented Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.

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