Federal judge blocks Sessions’ hold on Baltimore PD reform deal

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In the waning days of the Obama administration, the United States Department of Justice and the City of Baltimore hurriedly reached a consent decree that followed an investigation of the Baltimore Police Department after the Freddie Gary riots.

An agreement for significant change was put in place, but new Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested a 30-day delay in having the court order signed to give the Trump administration an opportunity to review the 200-plus page decree. Friday a federal judge refused the request and approved the prior agreement.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar’s ruling prompted Sessions to say that he has “grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city,” according to a released statement.

Sessions added that the decree includes “clear departures from many proven principles of good policing that we fear will result in more crime.”

Baltimore is a city with a high crime rate and became a powder keg following the death of the 25-year-old Gray while in police custody in April 2015. Days of rioting followed and already tense relations between the police and the mostly minority communities were stretched even thinner. The city invited the Justice Department in to conduct a thorough investigation into its police department and it came away with a scathing report that found “widespread discriminatory and unconstitutional practices.”

The agreement between the Justice Department, then led by Loretta Lynch, and the city of Baltimore, was not scheduled to be approved by a federal judge until after the Trump administration took 0ver.

The agreement includes changes in the training 0f officers in resolving conflicts without the use of force, major restrictions on when and how they can engage suspects, interaction with protesters, youths and emotionally disturbed persons and more.

H/T: The Baltimore Sun

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