Judge denies United States request to delay Baltimore police reform hearing
05:22, Apr 13, 2017
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The denial was a blow to Justice Department.
City officials also wrote it "strains credulity" to believe the March 31 release of a two-page directive by Sessions "which reiterates long standing principles of federal-local law enforcement collaboration" should necessitate a delay. That's a court-supervised plan to correct civil rights violations by Baltimore police.
The Justice Department "certainly agrees" there is a "crucial need" for police reform, Gore said, noting that the city of Baltimore had the DOJ's "continued commitment" to "work cooperatively and productively" on reform. It was the result of months of negotiations between the Justice Department and Baltimore authorities and is meant to address systemic violations of constitutional rights identified in a scathing report released a year ago. That includes scrutinizing the effectiveness of existing and proposed consent decrees that involve courts enforcing police reforms. While it is obviously not the department's role to conduct the day-to-day management of local police, there is a role for the federal government.
It was unclear on Tuesday how a sweeping new federal review of police department consent decrees might impact the consent decree the V.I. Police Department is operating under - a document which is aimed at ensuring constitutional policing in the territory.
Across the border in neighboring Maryland, the Prince George's County Police Department was subject to federal court decrees after investigations revealed excessive police force and abuses in the use of police dogs.
Fast forward to this week and Sessions is now actively working to dissemble agreements made with problematic police forces nationwide.
Sessions has always been a critic of the consent decree process, calling them "dangerous" in a 2008 report.
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Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis arrives at a news conference at the department's headquarters in Baltimore, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, to respond to the Department of Justice'srequest for a 90-day delay of a hearing on its proposed overhaul of the police department. He fired one police superintendent and hired another, appointed his own task force on police reform - which released its own scathing report - pledged to hire hundreds of additional police officers, and vowed to reinvent the culture and practices of CPD regardless of what the Justice Department might do.
The Justice Department opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Baltimore Police Department in 2015, after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in a police transport wagon, plunged the city into civil unrest. Baltimore's mayor and police chief worked closely with Justice Department investigators to scrutinize the city's police force and embraced a plan they crafted to overhaul the troubled department.
"We won't allow the change of administrations in Washington, D.C., to get in the way of the positive vision we have for the PPB, " said the mayor's spokesman, Michael Cox. Every speaker, including the attorney representing the city, urged the judge to accept a consent decree to reform the police department that already has been signed by the federal government and the city.
Lightfoot also was critical of the idea that police reform somehow inhibits the fight against crime, noting that community trust is essential to solving crimes and the majority of good officers don't want to be tarnished by a few bad actors.
In fact, minority and urban communities crave diligent policing.
"After a consent decree experience, when a consent decree experience is done right, that police department is forever changed for the better", Davis said. "If the judge hears from the residents of the city that they feel strongly about the consent decree remaining necessary ..." "The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws created to preserve and protect civil rights". Did I completely understand the ramifications of the consent decree?
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