Civil rights groups alarmed over retreat on police reforms

Civil rights groups reacted with alarm Tuesday, while law enforcement organizations expressed relief, after the Trump administration signaled it may back out of federal agreements that compel several police departments around the U.S.to curb racial bias and excessive force.

The consent decree agreement with the DOJ devotes an entire section to technology.

The Justice Department had requested a 90-day delay in today's hearing. Did I completely understand the ramifications of the consent decree?

The memo went to U.S. Attorneys Offices across the country, as well as other branches of the U.S. Department of Justice, such as the offices that provide technical assistance and grants to law enforcement, including the Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday asked a federal court for 90 days to review an agreement reached with Baltimore for the city to enact a series of police reforms in how officers use force and transport prisoners, court documents showed.

So they were surprised by the Justice Department's sudden request Monday for more time to see how the proposed changes might conflict with new Attorney General Jeff Sessions' crime-fighting agenda. In what seemed like a reference to Sessions' skepticism of consent decrees, a lawyer representing Baltimore said on Thursday that he wasn't sure people were actually looking at the text of the consent decree, which include provisions for amendments.

The DOJ had wanted more time because Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to pull back from consent decrees and focus more on supporting police. The plan discourages officers from writing up minor offences such as loitering and bars police from arresting people simply because they are in high-crime areas.

The Justice Department and territory reached agreement on the consent decree as a settlement in a civil lawsuit the federal agency had filed. The police chief himself has stated that, without the consent decree, the pace of reform will be slow. There are a number of paragraphs, though, that are outstanding and have still not been met.

With this line of the letter, Sessions demonstrates "either ignorance of or unconcern for the painful lessons that history has taught us", Stoughton said, adding that it "suggests an incomplete and ineffective approach to addressing problems in policing".

Not content with slowing down or halting current federal investigations, Sessions has said he will re-examine agreements already in place or in process, considered by courts and, sometimes reluctantly, approved by everyone involved.

"They can't reverse a court decision", he said.

"If a consent decree is warranted, a consent decree should be imposed", Pasco said. And I said absolutely. "The reforms we have made over the past year are built on the principles of partnership and trust between our residents and our officers, and they laid the foundation for the 2017 reform plan we outlined just a few weeks ago".

The agency asked a Baltimore judge to postpone a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department. That report offered a variety of potential solutions. The Justice Department found instances when officers fired their weapons when the use of deadly force wasn't justified, struck people in the head with guns, and used stun guns and pepper spray on people who posed little, if any, threat.

In April 2015, Baltimore erupted in the worst rioting in decades over the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken during what prosecutors said was a jolting ride in a police van while handcuffed and shackled.

It will likely end hopes for a consent decree to bring federal oversight of the CPD.

Walker said on Tuesday that the concern he has is the cost of the consent decree to the territory.

"Non-white residents feel distrustful, attacked, bullied, defensive, scared, scarred and singled out", said Shantay Guy, a community mediator.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the independent watchdog New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, said a massive paper trail is necessary for the courts to determine if police departments are complying with a consent decree's terms.

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