Sessions still concerned about police reform
- Author: Larry Hoffman Apr 08, 2017,
Apr 08, 2017, 12:31
"After close review of the proposed decree, and in light of all other submissions on the docket and in open Court, the Court concludes the decree is fair, adequate, and reasonable".
Baltimore officials are telling a federal judge they want to move forward with a plan to overhaul the city's troubled police department.
The DOJ lawyers were turned down in a delay request Wednesday. DOJ attorney John Gore said Attorney General Jeff Sessions is anxious about "whether it will achieve the goals of public safety and law enforcement while at the same time protecting civil rights".
"As Judge Bredar noted, Baltimore can not flourish without effective and lawful policing, and this consent decree represents the first step towards that reality", NAACP LDF president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill said in a statement released Friday.
Mr. Sessions blasted the judge's approval of the agreement, saying negotiations were rushed in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Still, Sessions says his Justice Department remains ready to work with Baltimore leaders to fight crime and improve policing.
"Baltimore has seen a 22 percent increase in violent crime in just the past year", Sessions pointed out. The Justice Department issued a scathing report detailing such misconduct past year.
Earlier this week, Sessions ordered a review of all consent decrees between police departments and the Justice Department. He signed it on Friday, one day after a public hearing to solicit comments from city residents.
Next, an independent monitor must be chosen to oversee the consent decree. A plan that prioritizes constitutional practices, he said, will make the crime fight more efficient, and more effective.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the decree will help accelerate needed reforms already underway.
Currently, the Department of Justice is party to 14 consent decrees with municipalities and law enforcement agencies regarding their policing practices.
The decree was negotiated after a long civil rights investigation into Baltimore police conduct, following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. Baltimore city State Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against the remaining officers in July 2016. Six police officers will be tried in the death of Gray in Baltimore.
"The time for expressing "grave concerns" has passed and instead the parties must now execute the agreement as they promised they would", Bredar wrote.
The consent decree orders Baltimore police to use proper de-escalation tactics and undergo training on how to interact with youth, the mentally ill, protestors and victims in sexual assault cases.
"We are disappointed, but Baltimore officers will endeavor to give the citizens of Baltimore the best public safety service possible given the constraints imposed upon the department by the decree", said Jim Pasco, the senior advisor to the group's president. Multiple mothers whose sons were killed by police testified about their pain.