Federal judge in Baltimore approves sweeping plan for police reforms
17:31, Apr 21, 2017
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A USA judge approved an agreement Friday to overhaul the troubled Baltimore Police Department, dealing a blow to the Trump administration that expressed "grave concerns" about the plan. "The current leadership of the Department of Justice should support the meaningful progress that has been made in reforming policing practices in these jurisdictions rather than deliberately impeding that progress".
"I hope that you see fit that we do something not to cover up or protect the police department through so-called reforms", he said. In 1997, city police were placed under a consent decree for problems ranging from excessive force and false arrests to illegal searches and lax officer discipline.
Since his confirmation as the nation's top law enforcement official, Sessions had expressed doubts over the veracity of an Obama DOJ report of police abuses in Baltimore and signaled his intention to relitigate the 19 other consent decrees that the Justice Department is party to.
Baltimore is far from the only city whose law enforcement agency was subject to federal litigation and reform under Lynch.
"The primary goal of this hearing is to hear from the public", he wrote.
A judge on Wednesday denied a request to delay the hearing, calling the request by President Donald Trump's administration a "burden and inconvenience".
John Gore, representing the Justice Department, had attempted and failed to delay the hearing. The latter effort led to the signing of the consent decree.
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the independent watchdog New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, said a massive paper trail is necessary for the courts to determine if police departments are complying with a consent decree's terms. Department lawyers asked the USA district court in Baltimore to put off approving the consent decree for at least 30 days so the new administration could review it. "I understand your viewpoint".
In certain cases during the Obama administration, the Justice Department negotiated formal reform agreements with the cities, usually in the form of a "consent decree", which are then overseen by a federal court. Thursday's hearing will be the first opportunity for residents to publicly voice their concerns. That means the Baltimore Police Department will be legally bound to implement reforms recommended by the DOJ, which were the result of a year-long investigation into Baltimore's policing practices.
Craig said it would be less expensive to hire the right police chief rather than paying a monitor, which sometimes doesn't sit well with police officers.
"The decree may not be what some people want, but it is a good faith step in the right direction", he said.
"Please do not delay it", she said. More of us need to know. Most of the written comments were in favor of the deal, with a few suggestions for tweaks, and a few were opposed to it.
The Obama Justice Department opened roughly two dozen investigations of police departments, and 14 of them ended in consent decrees.
In April 2015, Baltimore erupted in the worst rioting in decades over the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken during what prosecutors said was a jolting ride in a police van while handcuffed and shackled.
Most importantly, it calls for the creation of a Community Oversight Task Force within 90 days to review the police department and recommend changes.
"It is very important that our community as well as the police, our fire, all of our local officials have great relationships with the community".
According to Daniel Bier's analysis based on numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are about 765,000 full-time police officers in the United States.