Judge approves Baltimore Police consent decree

Posted at 11:28 AM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 23:12:59-04

Despite both sides initially wanting to get the consent decree done, it did not happen without drama.

This week, a new department of justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for a delay twice, both times were denied.

The final denial came this morning just before Judge James Bredar approved the consent decree making Baltimore Police reform an order of the court.

"Well let me just say it is a great day for Baltimore. Our consent decree has been signed," Mayor Catherine Pugh said.

Pugh was relieved.

Doing television interviews as late as Friday morning about whether or not she feels the judge would sign the document, she remained hopeful and was happy to see her optimism pay off.

It was a sentiment echoed from the police department to the city council.

"We are happy that the judge saw fit to move this forward because in order for us to build trust between the police and the community, we have to get this consent decree done," said City Council President Jack Young.

But not all are happy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a statement blasting the approval of the consent decree:

“Today, a federal court entered a consent decree that will require the court and a highly-paid monitor to govern every detail of how the Baltimore Police Department functions for the foreseeable future.  This decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office.  While the Department of Justice continues to fully support police reform in Baltimore, I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.

Make no mistake, Baltimore is facing a violent crime crisis.

 Baltimore has seen a 22 percent increase in violent crime in just the last year. While arrests in the city fell 45 percent based on some of these ill-advised reforms, homicides rose 78 percent and shootings more than doubled. Just in 2017, we’ve seen homicides are up another 42 percent compared to this time last year. In short, the citizens of Baltimore are plagued by a rash of violent crime that shows no signs of letting up.

The mayor and police chief in Baltimore say they are committed to better policing and that there should be no delay to review this decree, but there are clear departures from many proven principles of good policing that we fear will result in more crime.  The citizens of Baltimore deserve to see a real and lasting reduction in the fast-rising violent crime threatening their city.

The Department of Justice stands ready to work with Baltimore to fight violent crime and improve policing in the city.”

That last part of Sessions’ statement is the line the mayor wants to hang her hat on as questions persist as to what, if anything, the DOJ might do in its opposition to this agreement.

"The department of justice stands ready to work with Baltimore to fight violent crime and improve policing in the city. What we are talking about, especially the hardware piece, technology that will improve policing in the city. That is where we will be looking for federal dollars and assistance to do," the mayor said.

The next step in this this consent decree process is to form a civilian oversight committee followed by the hiring of an independent monitor to oversee the reforms.

According to the city, it hopes to have that monitor in place by this summer.