Trump cam­paign vows counter to Md.’s jus­tice re­form ef­forts

Cecil Whig - - & - By SAM REILLY

Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

— If Trump’s cam­paign was any pre­cur­sor to his ad­min­is­tra­tion, the pres­i­dent-elect could threaten crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form un­der­way in Mary­land, some civil rights ad­vo­cates say.

Fol­low­ing a U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­port that re­vealed po­ten­tially un­con­sti­tu­tional prac­tices in the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union has pushed for ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency from the Bal­ti­more po­lice.

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­leased its find­ings months after Fred­die Gray, in April of 2015, died as a re­sult of in­juries sus­tained while in po­lice cus­tody. Gray’s death turned Bal­ti­more into an epi­cen­ter of racial un­rest in Mary­land, specif­i­cally be­tween AfricanAmer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and po­lice.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “The death of Fred­die Gray and en­su­ing un­rest … un­der­scored the crit­i­cal lack of trust be­tween (the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment) and a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the City’s res­i­dents, es­pe­cially African Amer­i­cans.”

Bal­ti­more City and fed­eral of­fi­cials are work­ing on a con­sent de­cree that would man­date re­forms


to polic­ing in Bal­ti­more, but their de­lib­er­a­tions have not yet been fi­nal­ized.

“The long and short is any hope that a DOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tion...would spur re­form (is) lost if there is no con­sent de­cree be­fore the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion takes of­fice,” Toni Hol­ness of ACLU Mary­land said.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, through­out his cam­paign, re­peat­edly re­ferred to him­self as the “law and or­der can­di­date,” ad­vo­cat­ing for stop-and-frisk poli­cies and in­creased po­lice pres­ence in vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties.

“Those ped­dling the nar­ra­tive of cops as a racist force in our so­ci­ety, a nar­ra­tive sup­ported with a nod by my op­po­nent, share di­rectly in the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the un­rest in (many) places within our coun­try,” Trump said in a speech in Wis­con­sin in Au­gust.

Many of his com­ments stem from un­rest in ar­eas where the com­mu­nity has re­acted to po­lice re­la­tions with vi­o­lence or protest, such as Bal­ti­more.

“In Mary­land, of course, we have been ad­vanc­ing a very strong agenda of re­form of the crim­i­nal jus­tice process and of polic­ing,” Con­gress­man-elect Jamie Raskin, D-Mont­gomery County, said. “We’ve also been in­vest­ing in re­form of polic­ing, and that’s where we need to go...I don’t think that the phrase ‘law and or­der’ con­trib­utes much to pub­lic di­a­logue in terms of re­form­ing and im­prov­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice.”

Mary­land’s most prom­i­nent re­form took the shape of the Jus­tice Rein­vest­ment Act, which passed in the spring 2016 Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion. The act pro­vides a plan for fun­nel­ing money pre­vi­ously used for in­car­cer­a­tion into crime pre­ven­tion ef­forts. It also steers drug of­fend­ers to­ward re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams rather than im­pris­on­ment.

Most of the act’s pro­vi­sions will go into ef­fect in Oc­to­ber 2017.

“(As some­one) who has man­aged law en­force­ment of­fi­cers 23 out of my 25 years, what I hear Mr. Trump say­ing, law and or­der to me means that he’s go­ing to en­force the laws,” said David Gro­gan, a re­tired Su­per­vi­sory Deputy U.S. Mar­shal at United States Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

Al­though the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice en­dorsed Trump after a na­tion­wide vote of chap­ters, the Mary­land chap­ter of the FOP voted not to en­dorse ei­ther can­di­date after be­ing given the op­tion of vot­ing for ei­ther Trump, Clin­ton or nei­ther.

Trump’s stance, largely sup­port­ive of law en­force­ment in po­lice-com­mu­nity dis­putes, comes as a com­ple­ment to the Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cer’s Bill of Rights, which gov­erns state agen­cies and Bal­ti­more City, and which civil rights ad­vo­cates see as an av­enue for per­pe­trat­ing civil rights vi­o­la­tions.

The pol­icy largely dic­tates how mis­con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions are han­dled within a po­lice force, reg­u­lat­ing the num­ber of days in which a com­plaint must be filed and the process of re­spond­ing to that com­plaint. Ad­vo­cacy groups have be­gun work­ing to make changes to the state law in or­der to in­volve the com­mu­nity in han­dling po­lice mis­con­duct cases.

“At a core level, Mary­land needs­form the way it deals with law en­force­ment,” said Ch­eye M. Calvo, a mem­ber of The Con­sti­tu­tion Project’s Com­mit­tee on Polic­ing Re­forms. “I think the Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cer Bill of Rights puts in place some re­ally dan­ger­ous safe­guards for bad ac­tors.”

How­ever, with­out a record in a govern­ment po­si­tion, cit­i­zens and leg­is­la­tors have only Trump’s cam­paign rhetoric to fall back on.

Some are con­cerned that Trump’s pol­icy would lead to dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“The his­tory has shown that there has been ne­glect in other ad­min­is­tra­tions and that hap­pened long be­fore Mr. Trump,” Gro­gan said. “I don’t know that he can do any­thing any worse than the con­di­tions al­ready are.”

“As it re­lates to law and or­der I think that Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s mes­sage has been loud and clear,” said Rashawn Ray, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Col­lege Park. “(What) I see hap­pen­ing with the ex­pan­sion of the law and or­der pol­icy is po­lice hav­ing more free range to ac­tively dis­crim­i­nate against black and brown peo­ple.”

The pres­i­dent-elect is un­der fur­ther scru­tiny after se­lect­ing Alabama Sen. Jeff Ses­sions as at­tor­ney gen­eral Nov. 18.

Ray called Trump’s po­ten­tial ap­point­ments for at­tor­ney gen­eral “highly prob­lem­atic” Thursday, when it was ru­mored that both Ses­sions and for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ses­sions, a for­mer fed­eral judge nom­i­nee dur­ing the Rea­gan Ad­min­is­tra­tion, was quickly de­nied the po­si­tion be­cause of his his­tory of racially charged com­ments. He later was elected to rep­re­sent Alabama in the U.S. Se­nate.

CNS re­porters Syd­ney Tonic and Mag­gie Got­tlieb con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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