Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Civil Rights Groups Worried About Latest Police Reform Halt

Alfredo Watts | 19 April, 2017, 07:02

The Trump administration faced yet another court setback on Wednesday when a Maryland judge struck down its request to delay a hearing on local police reforms.

Baltimore officials and the Justice Department reached the wide-ranging agreement in the waning days of the Obama administration to address a pattern of discrimination and unconstitutional policing. No police department that has but a few "bad apples" in it ever has been or would be subject to federal oversight and a consent decree.

The DOJ asked for things to be postponed for 90 days, citing a review of police reform agreements under the new administration. They oppose any delay.

Thursday's hearing is expected to draw hundreds of people.

Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe said the agreement is "insufficient" because it doesn't adequately ensure transparency in prosecutions.

But Sessions' Justice Department wants those reforms to stop.

David Prater is a representative from Disability Rights Maryland.

Local Justice Department attorneys and employees have continued to participate in the city's reform efforts, most recently helping to run two public meetings on community-oriented policing.

He says everything was about race to Holder, and he used the department to root out what he perceived as racism within law enforcement with a vengeance. In a city that became emblematic of police abuse, excessive force and callous treatment of young black men, Baltimore's mayor and commissioner say they are eager and ready to change not only the culture of law enforcement, but the practice. "It will make the city better, and it'll make our relationships with the community better", Davis said. Multiple mothers whose sons were killed by police testified about their pain. Attempting to pull out of those agreements - most of which have already been approved in federal court - delivers an indisputable message: Black lives don't matter to the Trump administration. "Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish", she said. "We are exhausted of burying our children". I mean, President Trump, Jeff Sessions have talked a lot about this as a way to up the morale of police forces who have felt demoralized by all the attacks made on them.

Based on the memo, Baraka said he didn't think Sessions understood the objective and scope of a consent decree.

It's up to Robart to decide when police reform under the consent decree has been completed. He says the hearing had been jointly requested by the Justice Department and the city.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday ordered a review of all reform agreements between the Department of Justice and police departments nationwide, such as a recent consent decree entered to overhaul the troubled Baltimore Police Department.

Gore said that given the crime spike in Baltimore, the government wants more time to make sure any agreed upon remedy "will help rather than hinder public safety".

"Pursuant to these recent directives, the United States seeks this extension of time to assess whether and how the provisions of the proposed consent decree interact with the directives of the President and Attorney General", the Justice Department said in a motion filed Monday. But, as demonstrated by a slew of publicized use-of-force incidents, police departments across the country are struggling to reign in bad actors and improve relations with the communities they serve. The hearing is now underway.

The Justice Department needs the 90 days to review the agreement as it develops strategies to support law enforcement agencies throughout the USA, lawyers for the department said in a motion filed in United States District Court for the District of Maryland. These deals are called consent decrees.