Mother Jones - Despite the opposition of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a federal judge in Baltimore on Friday locked in place a consent decree between the city's police force and the Department of Justice. While local officials cheered the order, which seeks to reform the troubled Baltimore Police Department after the Obama Justice Department found widespread unconstitutional and discriminatory practices, Sessions issued a blistering statement predicting that crime would rise as a result.
Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has begun to walk back its commitment to federal oversight of police departments with discriminatory patterns or practices, a priority of the Obama administration. Earlier this week, Sessions ordered a review of all consent decrees between police departments and the Justice Department. Department lawyers asked the US district court in Baltimore to put off approving the consent decree for at least 30 days so the new administration could review it.
But in his opinion Friday, US District Judge James Bredar said the time for reviewing the agreement had passed. "The case is no longer in a phase where any party is unilaterally entitled to reconsider the terms of the settlement; the parties are bound to each other by their prior agreement," Bredar wrote. "The time for negotiating the agreement is over. The only question now is whether the Court needs more time to consider the proposed decree. It does not." The 227-page consent decree, which places new rules and limits on how officers can interact with the public and mandates training in de-escalation tactics, among other areas of training, will take effect immediately.