Justice Dept. Seeks Pause on Agreement with Baltimore Police - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Justice Dept. Seeks Pause on Agreement with Baltimore Police

Posted: Updated:
(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

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.
    
So they were surprised by the Justice Department's sudden request Monday for more time to see how the proposed changes might conflict with the aggressive crime-fighting approach new Attorney General Jeff Sessions favors.
    
Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis believed the proposed agreement would repair public trust in the police while also quelling violence. They swiftly voiced their opposition to the requested delay, and pledged to press ahead with the business of transforming the police department, with or without a court-enforceable consent decree.
    
"The Baltimore Police Department is continuing to move forward with reforms related to the forthcoming consent decree for the overall progress of the city of Baltimore," said department spokesman T.J. Smith. "Further delays only serve to erode the trust of the public in this process."
    
"Much has been done to begin the process of building faith between the police department and the community it seeks to serve," Pugh said in a statement. "Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect or eroding the trust that we are working hard to establish."
    
The government's request for a 90-day continuance came three days before a scheduled hearing before a federal judge, and just hours after Sessions announced he had ordered a sweeping review of the Justice Department's interactions with local law enforcement, including existing or proposed consent decrees.
    
It provided an early glimpse of the attorney general's stance on police department oversight and his ambivalence about mandating widespread change of local law enforcement agencies.
    
Sessions, an Alabama Republican who cultivated a tough-on-crime reputation during 20 years in the Senate, has repeatedly expressed concern that lengthy investigations of a police department can malign an entire agency. That view reflects a dramatic break from President Barack Obama's administration, which saw such probes as essential in holding local law enforcement accountable for unconstitutional practices.
    
Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division under Obama, said the request "is alarming and signals a retreat from the Justice Department's commitment to civil rights and public safety in Baltimore," especially because the agreement sought the input of community members, police union officials and department heads to "address serious constitutional violations that had undermined trust and public safety in the city."
    
The federal government cited several reasons for the requested delay, including new Justice Department policies that federal officials say are aimed at reducing crime.
    
If granted, the request would effectively stall a process that could lead to a sweeping overhaul in the policies and practices of the Baltimore police force. The two sides reached agreement on a consent decree earlier this year before Attorney General Loretta Lynch left the Justice Department.
    
The department said it was aware of the need for police reform in Baltimore but added that the city "has made progress toward reform on its own and, as a consequence, it may be possible to take these changes into account where appropriate to ensure future compliance while protecting public safety."
    
In addition to Baltimore, the review also renewed questions about the fate of negotiations with Chicago's police department after a report released in the final days of Lynch's tenure found officers there had violated the constitutional rights of residents for years.
    
Sessions has not committed to such an agreement and has repeatedly said he believes broad investigations of police departments risk unfairly smearing entire agencies and harming officer morale. He has also suggested that officers' reluctance to aggressively police has contributed to a spike in violence in some cities.
    
The proposed consent decree in Baltimore comes after the Justice Department released a scathing report detailing longstanding patterns racial profiling and excessive force within the city's police force. The review was prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon, and whose death roiled the city.
    
Activist Ray Kelly said the requested delay undermined hard-fought efforts to heal the fractured relationship.
    
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, initially voiced concern after the Justice Department asked for a delay of court proceedings earlier this year. On Monday, she called the Justice Department's request "deeply concerning."
    
"The residents of Baltimore have waited a long time for relief, and the Justice Department provided a roadmap, setting forth in great detail the systemic problems that riddle the police department," she said. "That the Justice Department will turn its back on issues so dark and severe is deeply disturbing."
    

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • After Months of Investigation, Murder Charges in Vaughn Prison Uprising Welcomed

    After Months of Investigation, Murder Charges in Vaughn Prison Uprising Welcomed

    10/17/2017 20:07:00 -04:002017-10-18 00:07:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 8:23 PM EDT2017-10-18 00:23:35 GMT
    The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
    DOVER, Del. --- An announcement on Tuesday that 16 inmates were being charged with first-degree murder in the deadly February inmate uprising at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna and in the killing of Correctional Officer Steven FloydMore
    DOVER, Del. --- An announcement on Tuesday that 16 inmates were being charged with first-degree murder in the deadly February inmate uprising at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna and in the killing of Correctional Officer Steven FloydMore
  • Police Search for Crisfield Shooting Victim

    Police Search for Crisfield Shooting Victim

    10/17/2017 16:55:00 -04:002017-10-17 20:55:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 4:56 PM EDT2017-10-17 20:56:01 GMT
    A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.
    Crime Solvers of the Lower Eastern Shore and the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office are continuing their efforts to find a shooting suspect.More
    Crime Solvers of the Lower Eastern Shore and the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office are continuing their efforts to find a shooting suspect.More
  • Arrest Made in Seaford Animal Cruelty Case

    Arrest Made in Seaford Animal Cruelty Case

    10/17/2017 15:28:00 -04:002017-10-17 19:28:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 3:50 PM EDT2017-10-17 19:50:18 GMT
    A Seaford man has been arrested on animal cruelty charges.More
    A Seaford, Del. man has been arrested on 449 charges, including felony animal cruelty, according to the state's Office of Animal Welfare.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 18 Inmates Charged in Deadly Del. Prison Uprising

    16 Inmates Charged With First-degree Murder in Del. Prison Uprising

    10/17/2017 10:14:00 -04:002017-10-17 14:14:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 2:25 PM EDT2017-10-17 18:25:59 GMT
    Sixteen inmates have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with a deadly uprising that occurred in early February at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.More
    Sixteen inmates have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with a deadly uprising that occurred in early February at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. Two other inmates were also charged in connection with the incident.More
  • Arrest Made in Seaford Animal Cruelty Case

    Arrest Made in Seaford Animal Cruelty Case

    10/17/2017 15:28:00 -04:002017-10-17 19:28:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 3:50 PM EDT2017-10-17 19:50:18 GMT
    A Seaford man has been arrested on animal cruelty charges.More
    A Seaford, Del. man has been arrested on 449 charges, including felony animal cruelty, according to the state's Office of Animal Welfare.More
  • Updated: Police ID Woman Killed in Kent County Crash

    Woman Killed in Kent County Crash

    10/16/2017 07:05:00 -04:002017-10-16 11:05:00 GMT
    Tuesday, October 17 2017 11:32 AM EDT2017-10-17 15:32:30 GMT
    Delaware State Police are investigating a serious crash that happened Monday on SR1 in Little Heaven.More
    Delaware State Police have released the name of a woman who died Monday morning in a two-car crash that occurred on SR1 in Kent County.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Maple Elementary School Band Making Noise, Gaining Attention

    Maple Elementary School Band Making Noise, Gaining Attention

    The band is the only elementary school band on the Eastern Shore - not an easy feat for students all thanks to teacher Ray Washington Jr., who started it all.

    Washington formed the band last year and already they're blowing up. Last Saturday, the band was invited to play at a football game at Morgan State University -Washington's alma mater and inspiration.

    More

    The band is the only elementary school band on the Eastern Shore - not an easy feat for students all thanks to teacher Ray Washington Jr., who started it all.

    Washington formed the band last year and already they're blowing up. Last Saturday, the band was invited to play at a football game at Morgan State University -Washington's alma mater and inspiration.

    More
  • Top Five Plays Of The Week – Week 7

    Top Five Plays Of The Week – Week 7

  • Salisbury Bypass Detour to Reopen Thursday

    Salisbury Bypass Detour to Reopen Thursday

    The State Highway Administration estimates the Salisbury Bypass detour will reopen on Thursday. 

    The construction to the bridge over US 13 is scheduled to finish this week and will allow traffic to head southbound on the bypass. 

    The detour's closure will also allow SHA to remove the temporary traffic signals on Naylor Mill Road.

    More

    The State Highway Administration estimates the Salisbury Bypass detour will reopen on Thursday. 

    The construction to the bridge over US 13 is scheduled to finish this week and will allow traffic to head southbound on the bypass. 

    The detour's closure will also allow SHA to remove the temporary traffic signals on Naylor Mill Road.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices