- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

BALTIMORE (AP) - The Latest on a judge’s decision to approve an agreement between the city of Baltimore and the Justice Department to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The Baltimore Police Department is looking ahead to one of the next steps in the process of reforming the agency, now that a federal judge has approved an agreement between the city and the U.S. Justice Department.

In a statement Friday, police officials say “we look forward to engaging with the community and the court in the process of selecting an independent monitor.”

The monitor will oversee the implementation of the agreement, which mandates improvements such as additional training for officers. It also overhauls the way the department handles encounters with mentally ill residents and with sexual assault cases. The monitor is expected to make regular, public reports.

The police department says the agreement “will support and, in fact, accelerate many needed reforms in the areas of training, technology, and internal accountability systems.”


1:45 p.m.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says that with a federal judge approving a plan to reform the city’s police department, the city can move forward in “building the bond of trust that must exist between the community and our police officers.”

A federal judge signed off Friday on the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Justice Department. That means that the court will now oversee the agreement and require the city to meet its standards.

The mayor says the city’s goal “is a stronger police department that fights crime while it serves and protects the civil and constitutional rights of our residents.” She says that will take collaboration by the city, the federal government and the state.


12:30 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he still has “grave concerns” about parts of an agreement between Baltimore and the Justice Department to overhaul the city’s troubled police force.

A judge approved the plan Friday despite Sessions’ concerns that it would hinder officers’ ability to fight crime and make the city less safe.

Sessions says in a statement that the agreement was “negotiated during a rushed process” by the Obama-era Justice officials and says the reforms it calls for are “ill-advised” given Baltimore’s rising violence.

He says the agreement includes what he calls “clear departures” from many proven principles of good policing that he said he fears will result in more crime.

Still, Sessions says his Justice Department remains ready to work with Baltimore leaders to fight crime and improve policing.


11:45 a.m.

A federal judge has approved an agreement between the city of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice to overhaul the city’s police department.

U.S. District Judge James Bredar signed the agreement on Friday, one day after a public hearing to solicit comments from city residents. Bredar called the agreement “comprehensive, detailed and precise,” and wrote in his order that it “is in the public interest” to approve it.

Bredar earlier this week denied a request from the Justice Department to postpone Thursday’s public hearing. On Friday, he denied a second request to delay signing off on the agreement to give new leadership in the Trump administration time to review it.

The Justice Department has indicated that it intends to review all existing consent decrees to determine whether they hinder efforts to fight violence crime.


3:15 a.m.

An attorney for the U.S. Justice Department says the agency has “grave concerns” about a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department.

Justice Department attorney John Gore told a judge Thursday at a public hearing that newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is concerned about the agreement and “whether it will achieve the goals of public safety and law enforcement while at the same time protecting civil rights.”

Baltimore residents overwhelmingly voiced support for a proposed overhaul.

Many shared harrowing stories of police abuse to make clear how necessary such reforms are. Multiple mothers whose sons were killed by police testified about their pain.

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