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Sweeping Federal Review Could Affect Consent Decrees Nationwide

April 4, 2017 2:55 AM
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Sweeping Federal Review Could Affect Consent Decrees Nationwide

“This has all been negotiated by the affected parties,” said Ray Kelly, president of the No Boundaries Coalition, a citizen advocacy group. Referring to Mr. Sessions, he said, “Now we have an outside entity telling us what’s best for our citizens and our community when he has no experience, no knowledge.”

Baltimore is one of nearly two dozen cities — including Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Seattle — that were the subject of aggressive efforts by the Obama administration to improve relations between the police and the communities they serve. That effort produced so-called consent decrees with 14 depart...

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April 5, 2017 1:07 AM

Beyond Baltimore, the most closely watched decision will come in Chicago, where the Obama administration, in its final days, issued a report that found failures in the Police Department after a series of police shootings of minorities. Negotiations have begun for a possible monitoring agreement, but Mr. Sessions has indicated he thinks the report was shoddy, casting doubt on the prospect of a deal.

Consent decrees

April 5, 2017 1:07 AM

Vanita Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama and negotiated the Baltimore consent decree, said it was unclear whether Mr. Sessions could withdraw from that agreement, which has not yet been officially approved by a judge.

New York edition

April 5, 2017 1:07 AM

Noting that Kevin Davis, the Baltimore police commissioner, had expressed strong support for the plan, Ms. Gupta questioned “whether the attorney general is really in sync with law enforcement.” She added that Monday’s announcement “signals an alarming retreat away from ensuring that police departments engage in constitutional policing.”

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April 4, 2017 2:58 AM

The broad review announced Monday could threaten some of those decrees if the Justice Department seeks to change its past stance about systematic police abuses in the affected agencies. But the Justice Department would not be able to unilaterally unwind the agreements without court intervention.

OPEN Document

April 4, 2017 2:58 AM

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said late Monday that the city would “strongly oppose any delay in moving forward.” Supporters of police reform called on Judge James K. Bredar, who is overseeing the negotiations between Baltimore and the Justice Department, to deny the request, arguing that Mr. Sessions was interfering with the will of the city.

New York edition

April 4, 2017 2:57 AM

Baltimore is one of nearly two dozen cities — including Ferguson, Mo.; Cleveland; and Seattle — that were the subject of aggressive efforts by the Obama administration to improve relations between the police and the communities they serve. That effort produced so-called consent decrees with 14 departments.

OPEN Document

April 4, 2017 2:57 AM

“This has all been negotiated by the affected parties,” said Ray Kelly, the president of the No Boundaries Coalition, a citizen advocacy group. Referring to Mr. Sessions, he said, “Now we have an outside entity telling us what’s best for our citizens and our community when he has no experience, no knowledge.”

Credit

April 4, 2017 2:57 AM

In a memorandum dated March 31 and made public Monday, the attorney general directed his staff to look at whether law enforcement programs adhere to principles put forth by the Trump administration, including one declaring that “the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn” the work police officers perform “in keeping American communities safe.”

Photo

April 4, 2017 2:56 AM

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies, an examination that reflects President Trump’s emphasis on law and order and could lead to a retreat on consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide.

Publish Date

April 4, 2017 2:56 AM

The Justice Department issued a report on Friday that cited systemic civil rights abuses by the Chicago Police Department. The findings come as the department tries to overhaul nearly two dozen police departments nationwide.