Sessions: Police reform deal may make Baltimore 'less safe'

Sessions: Police reform deal may make Baltimore 'less safe'
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Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLewandowski says he's under no obligation to speak truthfully to the media Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE says an Obama-era agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Baltimore to bring reforms to its police force could make the city "less safe."

A federal judge approved the consent decree on Friday, turning it into a court order. The judge blocked a request from the Trump Justice Department to delay the agreement.

Sessions blasted the decision.

“Today, a federal court entered a consent decree that will require the court and a highly-paid monitor to govern every detail of how the Baltimore Police Department functions for the foreseeable future,” the nation's top law enforcement official said in a statement Friday.

"This decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office.

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“While the Department of Justice continues to fully support police reform in Baltimore, I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.”

Sessions's DOJ had filed a request in the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland on Monday, asking for 90 more days to review the pact with the Baltimore Police Department.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar denied the DOJ request on Thursday.

Sessions said Friday the pact — which was announced just days before President Trump entered office in January — contains “clear departures from many proven principles of good policing.”

“Make no mistake, Baltimore is facing a violent crime crisis,” he said. "Baltimore has seen a 22 percent increase in violent crime in just the last year.

"The citizens of Baltimore deserve to see a real and lasting reduction in the fast-rising violent crime threatening their city," the former GOP senator from Alabama added.

The DOJ’s existing consent decree with Baltimore’s law enforcement calls for changes including training for officers on how to resolve conflicts without using force.

Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, accused the Baltimore Police Department of unconstitutional and discriminatory practices in August after a yearlong probe.

The investigation was launched after Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died after suffering injuries while in police custody in April 2015.

Gray’s death triggered riots in Baltimore and sparked national debate over the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement.

Sessions on Monday instructed DOJ officials to review the agency’s consent decrees with all police forces nationwide, including Baltimore’s.

The attorney general said the review is necessary to ensure none of the pacts undermine the Trump administration’s goals of promoting police officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.