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>>

  • Dagsboro Family Facilitating Letters to Santa

    Dagsboro Family Facilitating Letters to Santa

    Saturday, November 17 2018 10:47 PM EST2018-11-18 03:47:39 GMT
    Saturday, November 17 2018 10:47 PM EST2018-11-18 03:47:39 GMT
    DAGSBORO, Del.- Children in Sussex County have a very special mailbox to write Santa Claus and receive a guaranteed response. The Malone family set up the North Pole post bin after husband Sean worked in the post office and saw letters to Santa going unanMore
    DAGSBORO, Del.- Children in Sussex County have a very special mailbox to write Santa Claus and receive a guaranteed response. The Malone family set up the North Pole post bin after husband Sean worked in the post office and saw letters to Santa going unanMore
  • People at NASA's Visitors Center React to Rocket Launch

    People at NASA's Visitors Center React to Rocket Launch

    Saturday, November 17 2018 6:40 PM EST2018-11-17 23:40:04 GMT
    Saturday, November 17 2018 6:40 PM EST2018-11-17 23:40:19 GMT
    Rocket Launch Wallops Island (Photo WBOC)Rocket Launch Wallops Island (Photo WBOC)
    Rocket Launch Wallops Island (Photo WBOC)Rocket Launch Wallops Island (Photo WBOC)
    WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - Did you get up early and watch the launch this morning? Just after 4 am, the Antares Rockets Blasted off from Wallops Island.More
    WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - Did you get up early and watch the launch this morning? Just after 4 am, the Antares Rockets Blasted off from Wallops Island. More
  • Man Arrested for DUI After Three Car Crash in Centreville

    Man Arrested for DUI After Three Car Crash in Centreville

    Saturday, November 17 2018 5:37 PM EST2018-11-17 22:37:46 GMT
    Saturday, November 17 2018 5:39 PM EST2018-11-17 22:39:58 GMT
    CENTREVILLE, Md.- Maryland State Police say a 28-year-old Centerville man is facing charges after allegedly driving under the influence and causing a car accident late Friday night. Police say around 11:48 p.m. on Friday, troopers were dispatched to RouteMore
    CENTREVILLE, Md.- Maryland State Police say a 28-year-old Centerville man is facing charges after allegedly driving under the influence and causing a car accident late Friday night. Police say around 11:48 p.m. on Friday, troopers were dispatched to RouteMore
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • New Toll Road to Open on U.S. Route 301 at Delaware State Line

    New Toll Road to Open on U.S. Route 301 at Delaware State Line

    Friday, November 16 2018 6:19 PM EST2018-11-16 23:19:54 GMT
    Friday, November 16 2018 6:19 PM EST2018-11-16 23:19:54 GMT
    MIDDLETOWN, Del. --- The U.S. Route 301 Mainline Project is beginning to wrap up work and lead to the state's first cashless toll road opening in December. The new U.S. Route 301 bypass will take drivers around Middletown and connect them directly to DelaMore
    MIDDLETOWN, Del. --- The U.S. Route 301 Mainline Project is beginning to wrap up work and lead to the state's first cashless toll road opening in December. The new U.S. Route 301 bypass will take drivers around Middletown and connect them directly to DelaMore
  • Man Arrested for DUI After Three Car Crash in Centreville

    Man Arrested for DUI After Three Car Crash in Centreville

    Saturday, November 17 2018 5:37 PM EST2018-11-17 22:37:46 GMT
    Saturday, November 17 2018 5:39 PM EST2018-11-17 22:39:58 GMT
    CENTREVILLE, Md.- Maryland State Police say a 28-year-old Centerville man is facing charges after allegedly driving under the influence and causing a car accident late Friday night. Police say around 11:48 p.m. on Friday, troopers were dispatched to RouteMore
    CENTREVILLE, Md.- Maryland State Police say a 28-year-old Centerville man is facing charges after allegedly driving under the influence and causing a car accident late Friday night. Police say around 11:48 p.m. on Friday, troopers were dispatched to RouteMore
  • UPDATE: Millsboro Man Found Shot to Death

    UPDATE: Millsboro Man Found Shot to Death

    Thursday, November 17 2016 12:11 PM EST2016-11-17 17:11:44 GMT
    Thursday, November 17 2016 11:52 PM EST2016-11-18 04:52:10 GMT

    Police are conducting a death investigation in Millsboro after a man was found dead on a road.

    More

    Police are conducting a death investigation in Millsboro after a man was found dead on a road.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices