Bal­ti­more, DOJ con­sent de­cree ne­go­ti­a­tions to miss tar­get date

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­tor@balt­sun.com

Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Bal­ti­more and the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice over a pack­age of sweep­ing po­lice reforms will not con­clude next week as both sides had hoped, city of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

Both sides had set an am­bi­tious, self­im­posed dead­line of Nov. 1 for con­clud­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions over a for­mal con­sent de­cree out­lin­ing the reforms.

On Fri­day, Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings- Blake called the dead­line “as­pi­ra­tional in na­ture” and said the ne­go­ti­a­tions are con­tin­u­ing.

“As part of the process, the City and DOJ have ac­tively en­cour­aged and re­ceived feed­back from a wide ar­ray of com­mu­nity mem­bers, civic lead­ers, and law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions through­out the city in or­der to find so­lu­tions that will cre­ate last­ing re­form within the Bal­ti­more Po­lice De­part­ment,” Rawl­ings-Blake said in a state­ment. “The City con­tin­ues to ne­go­ti­ate col­lab­o­ra­tively and in good faith to reach a long-term res­o­lu­tion with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice that serves the best in­ter­ests of the cit­i­zens of Bal­ti­more.”

An­thony McCarthy, a spokesman for the mayor, said she re­mains “hope­ful that this can be done by the end of her term,” which con­cludes in early De­cem­ber.

At the same time, McCarthy said, the ne­go­ti­a­tions “are metic­u­lous and each fine point is wor­thy of ev­ery con­sid­er­a­tion,” and Rawl­ings-Blake “be­lieves that the cit­i­zens and the Bal­ti­more Po­lice De­part­ment de­serve [to have] this con­sent de­cree ... done right.”

T.J. Smith, a po­lice spokesman, re­ferred all ques­tions to the mayor’s of­fice. Vanita Gupta, head of the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s Civil Rights Di­vi­sion, said in a state­ment that her staff “un­der­stand the im­por­tance of mov­ing for­ward ... as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Once at­tor­neys for the city and the Jus­tice De­part­ment reach an agree­ment, it will go be­fore the City Coun­cil. A fed­eral mon­i­tor will then be se­lected to over­see the city’s com­pli­ance with the de­cree.

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