Baltimore officials to judge: Don't delay police overhaul

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore officials are telling a federal judge they want to move forward with a plan to overhaul the city’s troubled police department despite a Justice Department request to delay it. The Justice Department early this week asked the judge overseeing the plan, called a consent decree, to postpone for 90 days a hearing scheduled for today.

The department asked for more time to see how the proposed changes might conflict with the aggressive crime-fighting approach new Attorney General Jeff Sessions favors.

On Tuesday, city officials told the judge in a court filing that they oppose a 90-day extension to the hearing.

Officials wrote that a postponement of the hearing “at this late date, would inconvenience many, and would only serve to undermine, not build, public trust in the reform process.”

City officials wrote that it “strains credulity” to believe the release of a two page directive by Sessions on March 31 “which reiterates long standing principles of federal-local law enforcement collaboration” should mean a 90 day postponement is necessary.

City officials wrote that the court “might consider granting a brief time period for the new United States administration to further review the proposed Consent Decree prior to its entry” but said today's hearing does not need to be postponed.

City officials had previously spoken out against the Justice Department's request.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called it “a punch in the gut,’ and was clear in his message that both he and the department are in support of a consent decree.

A binding agreement with the court, he said, would ensure that crucial reforms to the department, such as technology updates, increased resources and expanded training, can be implemented quickly and efficiently.

But Davis made clear that regardless of what happens, he is committed to reform.
 

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