A lawyer for the Department of Justice said Thursday that the department has “grave concerns” over the Baltimore Police Reform consent decree [text, PDF] negotiated [JURIST report] under former President Obama. This took place during a hearing [order, PDF] intended to allow the public to share their thoughts on the settlement. The city solicitor [official website] and several Baltimore residents asked the judge to approve the agreement negotiated by the previous administration. Attorney General Sessions has spoken against backlash and towards law enforcement stating that it hurts the fight against crime. This comes after Attorney General Sessions issued a memo [text, PDF] earlier this week ordering the Justice Department to undertake a comprehensive review of all police reform activities [JURIST report] issued during the Obama administration.
The consent decree comes after a finding [JURIST report] in August by the DOJ that the BPD had violated the First and Fourth Amendments, as well as other federal anti-discrimination laws with its policing practices. Reform measures are being implemented in police departments across the country primarily as a consequence of increasing reports of excessive force, racial profiling and officer-involved shootings. In July Baltimore’s state attorney dropped charges [JURIST report] against six officers charged with various crimes stemming from the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. Gray’s death started widespread protests in Baltimore and around the nation. In August 2015 Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced [JURIST report] plans to issue new guidelines significantly limiting the use of racial profiling in policing as an effort to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.