Judge hears Jus­tice doubts on Baltimore con­sent de­cree

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JULIET LIN­DER­MAN

BALTIMORE | The Trump Jus­tice De­part­ment ex­pressed “grave con­cerns” Thurs­day about an agree­ment the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion reached with the city of Baltimore to over­haul its po­lice de­part­ment in the wake of the racially ex­plo­sive Fred­die Gray case.

A gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney weighed in on the pro­posed con­sent de­cree at a public hear­ing as about 50 Baltimore res­i­dents lined up to en­dorse the re­forms and com­plain of deep-seated racism, abuse and deadly force at the hands of the po­lice.

“The con­sent de­cree needs to be passed for us to feel we can call on the Baltimore Po­lice De­part­ment with­out them mak­ing us into the crim­i­nals when we are the victims,” said Shane-jah McCaf­fity, a black high school stu­dent.

But Jus­tice De­part­ment at­tor­ney John Gore said At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions is wor­ried about whether the agree­ment “will achieve the goals of public safety and law en­force­ment while at the same time pro­tect­ing civil rights.”

Mr. Gore said there has been a spike in crime in Baltimore and the ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to make sure that the agree­ment “will help rather than hin­der public safety.”

The stand rep­re­sents the start of what ap­pears to be a re­treat by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from the fed­eral con­sent de­crees that have been put into place in sev­eral U.S. ci­ties in re­cent years to root out racism, ex­ces­sive force and other abuses against mi­nori­ties.

Nearly two years ago, 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.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and is­sued a scathing re­port out­lin­ing wide­spread mis­treat­ment of black peo­ple, in­clud­ing ex­ces­sive force and un­law­ful stops. The pro­posed agree­ment to rem­edy the abuses was ne­go­ti­ated dur­ing the fi­nal days of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Baltimore Solic­i­tor David Ralph said Thurs­day that the plan was de­signed to help po­lice fight crime while pro­tect­ing res­i­dents’ rights and re­pair­ing trust be­tween the com­mu­nity and the de­part­ment.

The plan dis­cour­ages of­fi­cers from writ­ing up mi­nor of­fenses such as loi­ter­ing and bars po­lice from ar­rest­ing peo­ple sim­ply be­cause they are in high-crime ar­eas.

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