The Department of Justice questioned whether Obama’s police reforms in Baltimore would actually help the city during a public hearing Thursday.
A Baltimore judge heard from concerned citizens, the police department and the Trump DOJ as to whether the Baltimore police should go ahead with the reforms, reports the Associated Press. Justice Department lawyer John Gore called for a thirty day halt “so new leadership can reanalyze and engage with the city as necessary.”
He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubts the consent decree “will achieve the goals of public safety and law enforcement while at the same time protecting civil rights.” The administration wants to make sure the agreement “will help rather than hinder public safety,” Gore added, citing a crime spike in Baltimore.
The consent degree, an agreement on police reforms between the Obama administration and the Baltimore Police Department, came after the DOJ alleged the department had a history of unconstitutional practices and racial discrimination.
Others begged the judge at the meeting to allow the department to enact the police reforms.
“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,” Shane-jah McCaffity, a black high school student, said.
Another Baltimore resident, Kenneth Parsons, argued the consent decree could help restore trust between the community and the police.
“The Department of Justice decision to seek a delay would deny relief to the citizens of Baltimore,” Parsons told The Washington Post. “The decree may not be what everyone wants, but it is a good-faith step in the right direction. Trust must be restored.”
Sessions has previously spoken out against the consent decrees, questioning whether they are effective in keeping the public safe.
“These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that,” he said during his Senate confirmation hearing.
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