Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' attempts to delay its consideration, a federal court in Maryland has approved a plan to reform Baltimore's police force on Friday.
Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore's police union, has complained that the union wasn't involved enough in the negotiations, and he supported the Justice Department's request to delay the proceedings. Instead of forcing law enforcement agencies to abide by the dictates of federal bureaucrats and judges, the DOJ should "help promote officer safety, officer morale, and public respect for their work".
The request to cancel the hearing "at the 11th hour would be to unduly burden and inconvenience the court, the other parties, and most importantly, the public", said Bredar, adding, "The primary goal of this hearing is to hear from the public". This decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office. The constitutional and civil rights of those they are sworn to protect and serve?
New Orleans police, plagued by decades of corruption and abuse, came to a similar court-enforced agreement with the Justice Department that led to improvements in sexual assault investigations and changes to department policy.
Last week, Sessions issued a memo to top Justice Department officials, directing them "to immediately review" all department activities, including "existing or contemplated consent decrees".
Neither heavy rain nor a new Justice Department's skepticism stopped dozens of Baltimore residents from converging on a downtown federal courthouse Thursday to voice their support for putting the city's police department under federal review. The agency launched its investigation weeks after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in the back of a police transport van.
The stand represents the start of what appears to be a retreat by President Donald Trump's administration from the federal consent decrees that have been put in place in several USA cities in recent years to root out racism, excessive force and other abuses against minorities. "But this agreement provides the necessary framework to eradicate widespread and systemic police misconduct through sustainable reform". The Obama administration launched dozens of civil rights investigations into local police departments across the USA, finding systemic constitutional violations in cities including Chicago, Cleveland, and Ferguson, Missouri.
The hearing was an opportunity for the public to have its say, and almost 50 community members stepped forward to tell their stories. The agreement cost Detroit more than $50 million, including $15 million for court-appointed monitoring teams. "The simple answer to both questions is 'yes.' It is clear that the requirements of the consent decree dramatically changed the culture of the Bureau of Police".
Need we be concerned with what Baltimore community activists think about the delay? Yes.
Booker, a former mayor of Newark, saw firsthand the effects of such consent decrees.
"Consent decrees take a major toll on local elected officials, police departments and stakeholders", said John Gaskin III of the NAACP in Ferguson, Missouri, whose leaders entered into such an agreement after Michael Brown's shooting death at the hands of police in 2014 roiled the St. Louis suburb.