Trump administration backs away from Baltimore police reform

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about crime to local state and federal law enforcement officials March 31 in St. Louis

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about crime to local state and federal law enforcement officials March 31 in St. Louis

An attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice said in federal court in Baltimore on Thursday that the department has "grave concerns" about its proposed consent decree with the city and whether it will improve public safety, and needs more time to assess it.

A Baltimore judge heard from concerned citizens, the police department and the Trump DOJ as to whether the Baltimore police should go ahead with the reforms, reports the Associated Press. The Justice Department's investigation, after an officer's fatal shooting of a Native American woodcarver in 2010, found officers had been too quick to be physical, especially in low-intensity encounters.

John Gore, representing the Justice Department, had attempted and failed to delay the hearing. The consent decree must be approved by the court to become binding. The constitutional and civil rights of those they are sworn to protect and serve?

The Justice Department has indicated that it intends to review all existing consent decrees to determine whether they hinder efforts to fight violence crime.

Baltimore-The NAACP issued a letter to Attorney General Sessions questioning the legality of announced attempts to modify consent decrees between the Department of Justice and a number of municipalities across the country and their police departments. Gray, an 25-year-old man, died in police custody on April 19, 2015 following an April 12, 2015 arrest.

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Gray's death was one of several incidents in the last few years in USA cities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked racial tensions and a nationwide debate about law enforcement.

Sessions pointed to the so-called "Ferguson effect" taking place in Baltimore since the Gray-riots, where police back off enforcement for fear of inflaming the public fury and incurring sanction for civil rights violations. For now, the Baltimore Police-and the reformers-are winning. Since the mid-1990s, the Department of Justice has signed 40-some agreements to reform police agencies, including Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles.

The U.S. attorney general is not pleased that the police department of the Atlantic coast city of Baltimore, Maryland, has chose to adhere to an agreement negotiated with the Obama administration.

A US judge on Friday approved an agreement to overhaul Baltimore's beleaguered police department, including changes in training and the use of force after officers were found to have routinely harassed minorities. The agreement cost Detroit more than $50 million, including $15 million for court-appointed monitoring teams.

Booker, a former mayor of Newark, saw firsthand the effects of such consent decrees.

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When Colon-Ortiz didn't respond, the trooper later returned to the home and obtained a voluntary DNA sample from Colon-Ortiz. Speaking before the hearing, the suspect's lawyer said his client has no criminal record and the case is no slam dunk.

Almost all residents who testified Thursday voiced strong support for the consent decree and urged the judge to sign it swiftly.

The national Fraternal Order of Police said it was disappointed by the judge's decision to move forward.

"Today, a federal court entered a consent decree that will require the court and a highly paid monitor to govern every detail of how the Baltimore Police Department functions for the foreseeable future", Sessions said.

Indeed, it is unclear just how many of those consent decrees already finalized could be affected by the Sessions-ordered reviews.

Sessions' statement suggests he is wary of the comprehensive oversight of the city's police department mandated by the decree.

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