wnol.info May 24 2018

Some say Baltimore police reforms not enough

May 24 2018, 01:41 | Irvin Gilbert

Credit Robert Lang Robert Ochs protests outside the courthouse

Robert Ochs protests outside the courthouse

The DOJ's request for a continuance came just two hours after Sessions issued a two-page memo, in which he directed his staff to review all the investigations, prosecutions, training and existing compliance reviews between the department and local law enforcement agencies.

"If the federal government is silent, it is sending a message to local police departments: do whatever you want and we will look the other way", he said.

The Attorney General has ordered the Justice Department to review reform agreements the Obama administration made with police departments across the country, in the latest move to boost law enforcement morale and independence.

The Trump Justice Department expressed "grave concerns" Thursday about an agreement the Obama administration reached with the city of Baltimore to overhaul its police department in the wake of the racially explosive Freddie Gray case.

The DOJ's request is "untimely" and "inappropriate", said U.S. District Court Judge James K. Bredar in a motion filed today.

The consent decree was reached after months of negotiations between Baltimore officials and Justice officials under the former Obama administration. "We're not going to throw the towel in" - and reforms "are going to take place no matter what", Davis said.

The memo reflected Sessions' past comments on police oversight.

They mayor said the city has set aside some money for improvements, and while it's "not almost enough", it's "enough to get things moving".

It was a federal consent decree in the wake of the Rampart scandal that played a key role in transforming the LAPD, said attorney Gerald Chaleff, who oversaw implementation of the decree. The Seattle police department, the statement said, is a national leader in reform: "We remain committed to constitutional and effective policing in our city".

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That doesn't mean those opposed to the government-mandated reforms, like Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis, won't try to change it.

In the context of the police reform, consent decrees involve the Justice Department working with a particular police department to correct finding systemic issues within it (though legally, this is not an admission of guilt by the department).

Many shared harrowing stories of police abuse to make clear how necessary such reforms are. "Indeed, the City Council is now moving forward to finalize details of the reform package, and the ACLU is supporting a strong, independent voice for the Community Police Commission".

While any future consent decrees could now be in jeopardy, it could be harder to change the agreements that are already in place in some cities.

A Chicago pastor and retired police officer, Richard Wooten, said activists would hold Emanuel and other city officials accountable to push reforms despite the Sessions order. But without the pressure to comply with a consent decree will that be enough? To talk about this, we are joined now on the line by Baltimore's mayor, Catherine Pugh. Baltimore's police chief and mayor both pushed back on the DOJ request Monday, the Associated Press reported, arguing that a delay in the process would damage public trust.

The move alarmed civil rights and police reform advocates.

"When they implemented the consent decree, it was put forth to the public as if it was a sweeping indictment of the police department as a whole", said Livaccari.

"My reaction when I read it was, 'Oh my God the sky is falling, we worked so hard on that agreement, '" said Amanda Marshall, the U.S. Attorney for OR at the time the settlement was reached.

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