Emanuel, Chicago's top cop respond to Sessions' bid to review police reforms

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Sessions is also calling for the deputy attorney general and associate attorney general to review all dealings with local law enforcement, including existing civil rights reform agreements, consent decrees, with police.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all consent decrees to be reviewed, including agreements in Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago.

Some saw his announcement as a potential threat to court-approved reforms spawned by Justice Department civil rights investigations of police agencies; Sessions has denounced such "consent decrees" before.

U.S. District James Bredar rejected the request Wednesday, saying in his order that pushing back the hearing "at the eleventh hour" would be a "burden and inconvenience to the court, other parties, and most importantly, the public".

Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division under Obama, said the request "is alarming and signals a retreat from the Justice Department's commitment to civil rights and public safety in Baltimore", especially because the agreement sought the input of community members, police union officials and department heads to "address serious constitutional violations that had undermined trust and public safety in the city".

While the Post acknowledged that the Justice Department might find it hard to undo agreements that have already been authorized by courts and that have independent monitors in place, the real danger is derailing reforms still in negotiations in cities where a judge has not yet approved a deal, such as in Baltimore and Chicago.

"The primary objective of this hearing is to hear from the public; it would be especially inappropriate to grant this late request for a delay when it would be the public who were most adversely affected by a postponement", he wrote. He says Ferguson has already made several reforms and says the city will not go back on those reforms.

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Gray's death was a flashpoint that prompted the Justice Department to launch an investigation into allegations of widespread misconduct within the police department that included excessive force, unlawful stops and discriminatory practices. Civil rights activists are fearful that Sessions' memo could imperil agreements that have not been finalized, including an agreement with the Chicago Police Department.

Police departments in each of those cities were subjected to Justice Department investigations and reform efforts after high-profile killings of black citizens by law enforcement.

The DOJ asked for things to be postponed for 90 days, citing a review of police reform agreements under the new administration.

However, legal experts have said that Sessions could alter reform agreements in other cities - such as Baltimore - that were still being implemented when President Donald Trump took office.

Sessions' review calls into question whether the DOJ will follow through on enforcing a nascent consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department or enter into a decree with the Chicago Police Department at all. For this Justice Department to back out of those and no longer offer cities tools to get police and those communities of color in a better place, I think is very unsafe.

Ronal Serpas, a former New Orleans police chief, says consent decrees can be a "key tool" in effective policing. That would require approval from federal judges, some of whom have made clear they will not accept changes without good cause. Accordingly, the motion for public fairness hearing is denied. Davis has said that to effectively fight violent crime, a department must build trust and positive relationships with communities in the city.

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