Despite DOJ delay, Baltimore pledges to move forward with reforms

Feds want 90 days to "review and assess"
Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 07:39:19-04

To be clear, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice is not walking away from the consent decree of the Baltimore Police Department, at least not at this moment.

The filing late Monday by DOJ attorneys asks for a public comment hearing scheduled for Thursday to be delayed 90 days to “review and assess the proposed consent decree.”

It is a delay that shocked no one in any level of Baltimore city government.

"I'd like to say I was surprised but I wasn't surprised,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, “I knew this was a possibility that there could be a further delay. The delay, in my opinion is completely unnecessary."

RELATED: Commissioner Kevin Davis 'disappointed' in DOJ's consent decree delay

From the commissioner to the city council, the reactions were near carbon copies of one another, worried this delay puts the hard fought consent decree agreement in jeopardy.

"We just hope the judge doesn't grant them this or that within the 90 day period they come to their senses, but I will not be surprised if they do not," said Councilman Brandon Scott.

And if the DOJ does walk away, the city will require a contingency plan.

Scott says regardless of what the feds do, the existing document is a blueprint for police reform the city intends to enact either way.

All are committed to that idea, but if the government does indeed walk away, so does the legal mandate for reforms.

"[Under a decree] they are not subject to political winds or the issue or the emergency of the day, they are always there and they will always require our attention,” Davis said.

Asked if losing the agreement would make the reform vulnerable Davis responded, “It certainly would."

But just down a couple of floors and across the hall the mayor said rest assured, a delay by the feds does not mean a delay in reform.

She says her administration is committed both financially and politically regardless of that federal mandate.

"I am asking the citizens of Baltimore to have faith that we will continue this work because we do think it is important and because we do want to transform our police department and we do want to make sure we are operating at the highest level," said Mayor Catherine Pugh.

In the meantime, the city fully intends to move ahead as scheduled.

Already Baltimore has earmarked more than $12 million to fulfill this consent decree in the next fiscal year which is a start the mayor says.

For now, it is now up to the federal judge in this case as to whether the DOJ is granted the delay.


Follow Brian Kuebler on Twitter @BrianfromABC2