Senior black lawmaker blasts Sessions for reviewing police reform

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A spokesman for the Baltimore mayor says officials are meeting with the city's attorney and plan to formally oppose a request from the Department of Justice to postpone a hearing on a proposed agreement to reform the police department.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a widespread review of police reform investigations launched by the Justice Department.

Pushing back the hearing at the last minute would be a "burden and inconvenience to the court, other parties, and most importantly, the public", the judge said.

Eight days before the end of the Obama administration, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the final approval of an agreement allowing the Department of Justice to meddle in the affairs of the Baltimore Police Department.

Pugh and other top Baltimore officials have pledged to move forward with reform the city's Police Department whether the Department of Justice pursues its pending consent decree with the city or not. "We are confident the judge will continue his oversight of the consent decree that the City and the Department of Justice agreed to", says Doug Honig, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.

Released Monday, a memo from Sessions said his Justice Department would aim to fight crime, guard civil rights and implement best practices. "It would be especially inappropriate to grant this late request for a delay when it would be the public who were most adversely affected by a postponement".

Since Gray's death, the homicide rate in Baltimore has continued to rise, and the city has struggled to rid the police department of corruption.

The decree was established after a U.S. Justice Department investigation found a pattern and practice of Cleveland officers using excessive force and violating people's civil rights.

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"I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong", Sessions said in January.

The lawmakers said they want to work with the Justice Department "to rebuild public trust in the Baltimore Police Department through these much-needed and long-overdue reforms".

"My reaction when I read it was, 'Oh my God the sky is falling, we worked so hard on that agreement, '" said Amanda Marshall, the U.S. Attorney for OR at the time the settlement was reached.

Spokeswoman Najla Haywood of the COPS office said she could not discuss the issue, referring questions to Justice Department headquarters.

Baltimore officials, either unaware of the danger of the consent decree as a first step to federal control, or else party to the effort, were appalled at Sessions' request. Actively participating in a consent decree, he said, will help bolster faith in that process.

Davis said the consent decree can ensure that future fiscal decisions don't undermine the process: "There are reforms that cost money and require budgetary commitment".

"Through these ongoing reforms we will ensure our officers have the training and support they need to do a tough job well, we will strengthen the relationship with our residents, and we will make our city a stronger, safer place", it said. He says a consent decree makes sure change happens no matter who is running the city or department.

Stoughton points to examples like Ferguson, where the city was over-policing poor, minority communities and using fines for misdemeanors as a major revenue source, and NY, where the NYPD's stop and frisk policy was ultimately ruled unconstitutional because it unfairly targeted people of color.