Will Baltimore’s Police Reform Agreement Survive Under Sessions as A.G.?

Freddie Gray protestMichael Reynolds/EPA/NewscomAs Senate testimony and questioning of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is wrapping up, sources with the City of Baltimore are announcing they’re finished with hammering out reforms to the police department in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

According to the Associated Press, the agreement has been finalized and may be released on Thursday. The reform agreement will be the result of a Justice Department investigation launched back in 2015 examining use of police force following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Gray died from a neck injury after being battered around while being transported handcuffed but not restrained in a police van after arrest. From the Associated Press:

The report found that officers routinely used excessive force, discriminated against African-Americans and made unlawful arrests. It found that officers stop large numbers of people — mostly in poor, black neighborhoods — with dubious justification, and unlawfully arrest citizens for merely speaking in ways police deem disrespectful.

It also found that physical force was often used unnecessarily, including against the mentally disabled, and that black pedestrians and drivers were searched more often than people of other races. …

The report also said officers use unreasonable and excessive force, including against juveniles and civilians who aren’t dangerous or pose an immediate threat. Force is often used as a retaliatory tactic in instances where officers “did not like what those individuals said,” the report concluded.

We don’t know yet what sort of reforms the City of Baltimore has agreed to. And we also don’t know whether they’ll survive the end of Loretta Lynch’s leadership as attorney general. As Anthony Fisher noted this morning, Sessions is a skeptic of the use of consent decrees by the Department of Justice to try to force police. He said, “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. These

You can read the rest of this article at: http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/11/will-baltimores-police-reform-agreement