Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, the Washington Post reports. He said a review is necessary to ensure that the pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime. Sessions said agreements reached between the department’s civil rights division and local police departments during the Obama administration will be subject to review by his two top deputies, throwing into question whether the pacts will stay in place.
DOJ asked a federal judge to postpone until at least the end of June a hearing on a sweeping consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department that was announced a few days before President Trump took office. “The Attorney General and the new leadership in the Department are actively developing strategies to support the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that seek to prevent crime and protect the public,” Justice officials said. “The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws designed to preserve and protect civil rights.” Since 2009, the Justice Department opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies and has been enforcing 14 consent decrees. Civil rights advocates fear that Sessions’s memo could imperil the status of agreements yet to be finalized, such as a pending agreement with the Chicago Police Department. “This is terrifying,” said Jonathan Smith of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, who spent five years at DOJ overseeing investigations into 23 police departments such as New Orleans, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo. In Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh said she and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis oppose the delay. Gene Ryan of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed the federal government’s request.