Judge blocks request to delay police hearing
- Author: Audrey Hill Apr 08, 2017,
Apr 08, 2017, 5:42
"In Chicago, where we spoke to hundreds of police, thousands of residents, and looked through hundreds of thousands of documents, if that does not yield a change, I think it will be incredibly disruptive", she added.
Those opposing the DOJ's attempt to delay the hearing say that oversight doesn't change simply because of new leaders, particularly Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The stand represents the start of what appears to be a retreat by the Trump administration from the federal consent decrees that have been put in place in several US cities in recent years to root out racism, excessive force and other abuses against minorities. Hicks said he met with Justice Department officials several weeks ago and expects to meet with them again in the next several weeks.
Sessions is unable to unilaterally roll back existing consent decrees - doing so would require the approval of a federal judge - but his memo may jeopardize police reforms in Chicago and Baltimore, where agreements with the federal government are still pending.
The city and the police department had invited the Justice Department into Baltimore in 2015 after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody and the subsequent unrest and rioting.
"We don't have computers in our police cars yet". In 1994, Congress gave the Justice Department the power to investigate and sue local police departments that engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives individuals of their constitutional rights.
The hearing was scheduled almost two months ago, but it stems from a consent decree originating during the previous presidential administration.
A public hearing about the Baltimore police consent decree will take place as scheduled tomorrow (Thursday April 6) now that the federal judge overseeing the decree has denied a motion by the U.S. Justice Department to pause it.
Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said the delay would have allowed the DOJ to review the current draft of the consent decree to "ensure that the best result is achieved for the people of the city and ensure that the BPD can carry out its mission of fostering trust with community members, safeguarding life and property, and promoting public safety through enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner".
"Accordingly, the MOTION FOR CONTINUANCE OF PUBLIC FAIRNESS HEARING (EFC No. 23) is DENIED", his order reads in part.
David Ralph, the interim city solicitor of Baltimore, said the agreement would both protect civil rights and help fight against crime.
But in an order Wednesday evening, Bredar blasted the eleventh hour request as an "unduly burden" that would "inconvenience the Court, the other parties, and, most importantly, the public".
Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore's police union, has complained that the union wasn't involved enough in the negotiations, and he supported the Justice Department's request to delay the proceedings.
Baltimore Solicitor David Ralph said Thursday that the plan was created to help police fight crime while also protecting residents' rights and repairing trust between the community and the department. Last year, the Justice Department published a scathing report outlining widespread abuse including excessive force, unlawful stops and discriminatory practices.
The judge also heard from mothers whose sons were killed by police.
On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of all Justice Department involvement with local law enforcement and requested the delay. I hope citizens will take advantage of this opportunity to have their voices heard.