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Baltimore police commissioner pledges reform despite Justice Dept. action

05 April 2017

The 227-page consent decree calls for numerous reforms to the police department.

According to CBS News, a recent memo from Attorney General Sessions declared it is not the federal government's job to police local law enforcement agencies.

That also throws into question whether the Sessions Justice Department will enter into new consent decrees with cities such as Chicago, which was the subject of a wide-ranging Justice Department civil rights probe in the a year ago of the Obama administration, spurred by the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald in 2015.

In a two-page memo released Monday, Sessions said agreements reached previously between the department's civil rights division and local police departments - a key legacy of the Obama administration - will be subject to review by his two top deputies, throwing into question whether all of the agreements will stay in place.

The revelation came a few hours after the Justice Department requested a postponement on a Thursday hearing with the Baltimore police department, which is still in civil rights talks over the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray.

Sessions also says: "Local control. and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing".

"I'd like to say I was surprised but I wasn't surprised", said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, "I knew this was a possibility that there could be a further delay". "The Department of Justice went in front of this judge, said 'We are committed to the consent decree, we're going to move forward with the consent decree, we think this is the right thing to do, ' and now they're changing course". FILE - In this August 10, 2016, file photo, police Commissioner Kevin Davis, left, listens as Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks during a news conference at City Hall in response to a Justice Departme. "The mayor, the community and the police department all support reform, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the obstacle standing in the way".

The proposed consent decree in Baltimore came after the Justice Department released a scathing report detailing longstanding patterns of racial profiling and excessive force within the city's police force. Said Sessions: "Where you see the greatest increase in violence and murders in cities is [where] ... we undermine the respect for our police, and make ... their job more hard".

President Donald Trump has taken an emphatic pro-police, "law-and-order" stand.

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Sessions has always been critical of federally enforced reforms to police departments.

BALTIMORE (AP) - 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.

"They can't undo the consent decree in Seattle", City Attorney Pete Holmes was reading Sessions' memo last night.

"The police department is absolutely dedicated to the consent decree process", Davis said.

And now Sessions wants to postpone a federal court hearing set for this week that would have allowed citizens of Baltimore to speak out about their embattled police force. The City of Chicago in January entered into a consent decree agreement with the DOJ, under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to reform its policing practices.

The DOJ's existing reform agreement with the city's law enforcement calls for changes including training for officers on how to resolve conflicts without using force.

Under Obama, the DOJ opened investigations into more than two dozen police agencies including Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Seattle.

Late Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police superintendent Eddie Johnson put out a statement saying that they believe important reforms are underway in Chicago.

Baltimore police commissioner pledges reform despite Justice Dept. action