News Worms
News Worms

Judge rejects Justice Department request to delay Baltimore police hearing

A public hearing about the Baltimore police consent decree will take place as scheduled tomorrow (Thursday April 6) now that the federal judge overseeing the decree has denied a motion by the U.S. Justice Department to pause it.

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. But regardless of the federal government's participation, she said, the city and police will continue work to fix shattered trust between law enforcement and the community.

PUGH: Well, I think that - well, we don't see the consent decree as taking over the police department. Do you want complete DOJ control of police departments or not? "The court will continue to monitor the implementation of the decree that benefits the citizens of New Orleans and is supported by the city and the police department", said Jonathan Aronie, the lead monitor for the New Orleans Police Department's consent decree.

Baltimore Solicitor David Ralph said Thursday that the plan was created to help police fight crime while also protecting residents' rights and repairing trust between the community and the department.

In Sessions' March 31 memo, he ordered two of his deputies to ensure all agreements comply with certain principles, including one that states: "the misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work" of law enforcement.

Learning about the requested delay was a "punch in the gut", Davis said at a news conference Tuesday morning. A decree worked out under the Obama administration is awaiting approval in Baltimore, which erupted in riots in 2015 over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

An attorney for the Justice Department says the agency has "grave concerns" about a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department.

Sessions' order will likely have its most immediate impact on Baltimore and Chicago, both of which have been negotiating reform settlements with the department since before Donald Trump became president in January.

Gray's death was a flashpoint that prompted the Justice Department to launch an investigation into allegations of widespread misconduct within the police department that included excessive force, unlawful stops and discriminatory practices. Any way you slice it, the Justice Department is about to take a big step backward, a step that will make life measurably worse, not better, for countless Americans who want, who deserve, and who have a constitutional right to policing that is fair and accountable.

Marshall said since the DOJ is the plaintiff in the settlement it would be possible for it to pull out of the agreement.

He complained that consent decrees make police officers look like villains, when "the vast majority of police officers are performing heroically every day". Sessions criticized the use of consent decrees during his confirmation hearings and has said the DOJ will "pull back" on police oversight efforts under his leadership.

"The administration is sending signals that they are willing to walk away from the Obama administration's civil rights agenda when it comes to local police forces", Cox said.

Davis spent 20 years with the Prince George's County Police Department, which signed on to a consent decree in 2004.


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