It is, in effect, suspending and attempting to eradicate concrete police reform that many of us in the civil rights and activist community fought for and got the Obama Administration to begin.
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis speaks at a news conference at the department's headquarters in Baltimore, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in response to the Department of Justice's request for a 90-day delay o.
The memo announcing the review raises warning flags.
Late Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo calling on his two top deputies to "immediately review all Department activities" for adherence to the Trump administration's law enforcement agenda. He called the proposed consent decree a "heavily negotiated document" that took all concerns into account. He noted the dangers officers face but added that they "must protect and respect the civil rights of all members of the public".
"This means we are even further from a society in which the people can feel protected by the police", said Brittany Packnett, a civil rights leader who protested in Ferguson in 2014. "This raises the question of whether, under the current attorney general, the Department of Justice is going to walk away from its obligation to ensure that law enforcement across the country is following the Constitution". "The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe".
Again, that's technically true. Throughout, the BPD and the city's leadership have repeatedly stated that without immediate and strong reforms, the mostly Black and brown communities most brutalized by police have no reason to trust police - undermining public safety. When there were problems in the community, the police were there. Instead, the decrees are implicitly being depicted as a kind of overreaction to highly publicized officer misconduct. Last week, he ordered a review of Justice Department consent decrees and other interventions, threatening to reverse progress created to halt the unequal application of justice around the country.
He complained that consent decrees can make police officers look like villains, when "the vast majority of police officers are performing heroically every day".
It will likely end hopes for a consent decree to bring federal oversight of the CPD. Baltimore agreed, signing a consent decree that will put the city under a court-appointed monitor. It is now up to Bredar to approve the decree, and that decision could come at any time. That second effort led to the signing of the consent decree in 2012. The judge is supposed to be implementing the law and looking out for the interests of others, including the public. "It sounds as if the intention of the mayor was to do this, consent decree or no consent decree".
The Sessions memo represents a dramatic break with the Obama administration, which saw the federal government as essential to holding local police departments accountable for unconstitutional practices. The effort has included appointing his own police reform task force to recommend changes for the city to make before federal officials took action.
"We do need timely and reliable data about policing", Stoughton said.
After the violence and protests that wracked Baltimore in the wake of Gray's death, the city has attempted to embrace the idea of police reform, and it is not taking Sessions' meddling lightly. That fits their political interests in changing the subject; and it reflects the reality that many Baltimore constituents welcome some federal supervision.
Seattle police, considered by critics as resorting too readily to force, reached an agreement with the federal government on training officers to better handle people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.
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