Earlier this week, President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled their intent to fight the federal police reforms of the last several years, ordering a review of dozens of reform agreements previously reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and troubled law enforcement agencies.
The judge said that pushing back the hearing to allow Sessions' Department of Justice, now operating under new guidelines, to review the decree would be "inconvenient". The standout of these, as written, is that it "is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies".
Bredar denied the request as "untimely", writing that granting such a delay "at the eleventh hour would be to unduly burden and inconvenience the Court, the other parties, and, most importantly, the public".
The decree was negotiated in the final weeks of former President Barack Obama's administration.
"I fear that this announcement paves the way for a retreat from accountability and oversight of allegations of systemic civil rights abuses", Booker said in a statement.
New Orleans police, plagued by decades of corruption and abuse, came to a similar court-enforced agreement with the Justice Department that led to improvements in sexual assault investigations and changes to department policy.
A federal judge signed off Friday on the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Justice Department. A decree worked out under the Obama administration is awaiting approval in Baltimore, which erupted in riots in 2015 over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and an agreement is being negotiated in Chicago.
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That alarmed civil rights advocates anxious that Sessions and Trump, who emphasized law and order in his White House run, might retreat on efforts to curb police abuse.
Baltimore residents wanted it-particularly those whose communities for too long have been ravaged by police misconduct and brutality. "The current leadership of the Department of Justice should support the meaningful progress that has been made in reforming policing practices in these jurisdictions rather than deliberately impeding that progress".
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested a review of all 114 reform agreements the Justice Department had secured with cities across the country during the Obama administration.
Witnesses shook off the rain and walked one-by-one into federal court in Baltimore today to testify on the Justice Department's police reform consent decree with the city. Obviously we are going to do everything we can to push it down the road that more accurately reflects the idea of being accountable to community. "We did that intentionally because we know that a consent decree will make the Baltimore police department better".
A USA judge on Friday approved an agreement to overhaul Baltimore's beleaguered police department, including changes in training and the use of force after officers were found to have routinely harassed minorities. "The simple answer to both questions is 'yes.' It is clear that the requirements of the consent decree dramatically changed the culture of the Bureau of Police".
Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis have vowed to press on with police reform regardless of what happens with the consent decree.
On Monday, the Sessions memo showed up as part of a brief submitted to U.S. District Court Judge James Bredar in the ongoing legal case over police reform in Baltimore. The Justice Department will likely have a hard time rolling back the consent decrees that are already in place, but those in cities with widespread discriminatory and unconstitutional policing will just have to look somewhere other than the Justice Department for relief.