Police ready for overhaul despite call for pause

Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement leaders in St. Louis on March 31, 2017.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of all Justice Department agreements with cities about police conduct. Sessions suggests that it is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal police departments which is his entire basis for this review (aka his attempt to undo) of the DOJ agreements with certain police departments.

"It's not about bad police officers". She says the city has set aside some money for improvements, and while it's "not almost enough", it's "enough to get things moving".

Some reform advocates say Chicago won't be able to overhaul its 12,000-officer police force without court oversight.

In a statement, Mayor Catherine Pugh said, "The city of Baltimore is ready to move forward to rebuild the important relationship which exists between the community and our police department". All of them are all still active.

PUGH: Well. Let me just say I've been before the federal court?

The Justice Department has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies and enforced 14 police reform agreements since 2009, according to the Post. You're afraid that if the Justice Department rolls back this consent decree that the federal dollars will go away for these reforms you want to implement.

But there are things the DOJ can do to undermine it.

Police and Justice Department earlier this year agreed in principle to negotiate on reforms of the police's use-of-force practices, training, supervision and accountability mechanisms.

An attorney for the Justice Department says the agency has "grave concerns" about a proposed agreement. "After all, these injunctions are entered to protect the public interest", Smith said.

On Monday, the Justice Department took its first step under Sessions' order by asking a federal judge to pause court proceedings for 90 days involving a proposed consent decree affecting Baltimore's troubled police force.

"What they press and don't press will probably change", Jackson said of the Justice Department. 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.

One example is the Mondawmin and Woodbrook neighborhoods of Baltimore, where tempers flared after local residents said police officers' behavior exacerbated tensions in the days after Freddie Gray's death in April 2015.

Civil rights leaders are alarmed by Sessions' memo, anxious his efforts will marginalize issues for communities of color. This is where the major change is coming in the Trump Justice Department.

Trump's drastic budget cuts would be a "silent killer" of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division.

The public will get a chance to weigh in Thursday about the city's consent decree.

Robinson, the ACLU lawyer, said his group and others would consider legal action to enforce agreements but warned that any retreat by the federal government would make it harder to monitor reforms. His new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, made it clear in a February speech that the Trump administration will take a different approach. "If the federal government is not going to do it, the states in general and other local bodies are critical to this process", Smith said.

Chicago insists it'll push ahead with reforms no matter what the Justice Department does.

  • Leroy Wright