A day after announcing Baltimore’s decree, then Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a scathing 161-page report outlining patterns of abuse by the Chicago Police Department.
After a almost two-year effort to reform the Chicago Police Department, the final piece of the puzzle may never come. 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. (A consent decree is the resolution of a dispute between two parties without the admission of guilty). What must be put in place to, one, create that trust, to stop the infractions that were being courted by our particular police department?
Sessions’ memo demands the Justice Department review all its prior police reform agreements “including collaborative investigations and prosecutions, grant making, technical assistance and training, compliance reviews, existing or contemplated consent decrees, and task force participation in order to ensure that they fully and effectively promote the principles” of the new administration. He wants to be partners with those local police forces to help protect public safety, shore up police morale.
Civil rights leaders are alarmed by Sessions’ memo, anxious his efforts will marginalize issues for communities of color.
These agreements are not anti-police; they are pro-Constitution.
The Post reports, “said agreements reached previously between the department’s civil rights division and local police departments-a key legacy of the Obama administration-will be subject to review by his two top deputies, throwing into question whether all of the agreements will stay in place”. “To suggest that the government should just leave it to local police departments is just frightening”.
The Justice Department opened an investigation into that department in 1999, after several people were attacked by police dogs.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at an event in St. Louis on March 31. The consent decree that followed ordered a series of major reforms for the department.
Greenwood, who also worked on a task force at the outset of the Obama administration to lay the groundwork for the president’s police reform strategy, called Sessions’ approach “a radical, about-face from a department that has developed considerable expertise”. No police department that has but a few “bad apples” in it ever has been or would be subject to federal oversight and a consent decree.
JOHNSON: Well, wait for it.
A St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department cleared Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who is white, of wrongdoing in the death of Brown, who was 18, black, and unarmed.
The agreement was the product of a investigation of the Baltimore Police Department following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken in a police transport wagon.
MCEVERS: How easy will it be to do away with some of these consent decrees and agreements? The consent decree has the strong support of both the mayor and police commissioner of Baltimore.
And in these consent decree cases, there’s another thing to keep in mind. “I can’t imagine a single federal judge overseeing a consent decree saying, ‘Oh, we’re done.’ That judge has a duty and an obligation”. “There should be some local input on whatever changes that are made”. And as we’ve seen already this year, the Trump Justice Department has a mixed record advancing some of its priorities in court.