BALTIMORE — The Latest on the Department of Justice’s request for more time to “review and assess” a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department (all times local):
Maryland lawmakers say they have written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and asked him to rescind a request the Justice Department made to delay police reforms.
The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Collen, and congressmen Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, who said they object to the Justice Department’s request.
The agency asked a Baltimore judge to postpone a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department. The Justice Department says it wants a 90-day delay in order to re-evaluate the agreement and determine whether it will hinder efforts to fight violent crime.
The lawmakers said they want to work with the Justice Department “to rebuild public trust in the Baltimore Police Department through these much-needed and long-overdue reforms.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says the city will press ahead with efforts to reform its police department, but wants the Justice Department to commit to a court-ordered plan to fix problems with how officers enforce the law.
The Justice Department on Monday filed a motion with a judge seeking a delay before putting in place a consent decree that would mandate reforms. It was developed following an investigation that found excessive use of force and other abuses by the police department.
Pugh said Tuesday that the city has already begun the reforms, but needs more money and support from the federal government to complete the process. She says the city has set aside some money for improvements, and while it’s “not nearly enough,” it’s “enough to get things moving.”
Chicago says it’s pushing ahead with police department reforms, no matter what the Department of Justice does.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that he had ordered a sweeping review of the Justice Department’s interactions with local law enforcement. That includes scrutinizing the effectiveness of existing and proposed consent decrees that involve courts enforcing police reforms.
Sessions’ announcement made no promises about the federal government’s commitment to far-reaching reforms.
A joint statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson later Monday said police reforms are in Chicago’s “self-interest,” which is “why Chicago has been, is, and always will be committed to reform.”
A civil rights investigation during President Barack Obama’s administration concluded in January that Chicago officers too often use excessive force.
A spokesman for the Baltimore mayor says officials are meeting with the city’s attorney and plan to formally oppose a request from the Department of Justice to postpone a hearing on a proposed agreement to reform the police department.
The Justice Department filed a request to postpone a hearing on the proposed consent decree implementing sweeping reforms to Baltimore’s troubled police department. Justice Department officials say they want to “review and assess” the agreement. They say they need more time to see how the proposed changes might conflict with new Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crime-fighting agenda.
Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis swiftly voiced their opposition to the request.
Baltimore’s police commissioner says they’re “ready to roll” with a proposed overhaul of the troubled department despite the Department of Justice’s request for time to review the agreement.
Commissioner Kevin Davis said at a news conference Tuesday that the department knows it must get better and a consent decree will make the department better.
On Monday, the Department of Justice requested a 90-day continuance of a hearing on its proposed overhaul of the police department, saying it needed to determine how it might interfere with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new focus on fighting violent crime.
Davis says the department can enact reforms itself, but change won’t come at the pace that it is needed without such an agreement. He says a consent decree makes sure change happens no matter who is running the city or department.
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 new Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crime-fighting agenda. The government’s request for a 90-day continuance came three days before a scheduled hearing before a federal judge.
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.
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