Baltimore

Will Baltimore's Police Reform Agreement Survive Under Sessions as A.G.?

And would it actually improve accountability for police misconduct anyway?

|

Freddie Gray protest
Michael Reynolds/EPA/Newscom

As Senate testimony and questioning of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is wrapping up, sources with the City of Baltimore are announcing they're finished with hammering out reforms to the police department in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

According to the Associated Press, the agreement has been finalized and may be released on Thursday. The reform agreement will be the result of a Justice Department investigation launched back in 2015 examining use of police force following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Gray died from a neck injury after being battered around while being transported handcuffed but not restrained in a police van after arrest. From the Associated Press:

The report found that officers routinely used excessive force, discriminated against African-Americans and made unlawful arrests. It found that officers stop large numbers of people — mostly in poor, black neighborhoods — with dubious justification, and unlawfully arrest citizens for merely speaking in ways police deem disrespectful.

It also found that physical force was often used unnecessarily, including against the mentally disabled, and that black pedestrians and drivers were searched more often than people of other races. …

The report also said officers use unreasonable and excessive force, including against juveniles and civilians who aren't dangerous or pose an immediate threat. Force is often used as a retaliatory tactic in instances where officers "did not like what those individuals said," the report concluded.

We don't know yet what sort of reforms the City of Baltimore has agreed to. And we also don't know whether they'll survive the end of Loretta Lynch's leadership as attorney general. As Anthony Fisher noted this morning, Sessions is a skeptic of the use of consent decrees by the Department of Justice to try to force police. He said, "I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong. 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 isn't necessarily opposed to them entirely and said any changes to existing reform decrees would have to be approved by courts and will remain in force otherwise.

If Sessions is worried about some sort of collective responsibility falling upon police officers on the basis of these consent agreements, he needn't worry. Many of these consent agreements are all about training and documentation and bureaucratic record-keeping. They're not actually about holding individual police officers accountable for misconduct. As I've previously noted about these Justice Dept. reform plans, they're absent any real engagement in the idea that there are police officers who may be deliberately engaging in misconduct. It's all a matter of fiddling around with the wording of policies.

Sometimes these reforms are completely oblivious to how municipalities even function. When the Department of Justice put together a plan to reform the police and courts in Ferguson, Missouri, one of the requirements was that the small town increase the wages of police officers to make the pay more competitive with those of nearby towns. Except, one of the major civil rights problems with police behavior in Ferguson was that it was relentlessly fining its minority citizenry in order to fund its own government. Their solution was to increase city spending!

These consent agreements don't address the inability of cities to hold police accountable for misconduct and get rid of them, thanks to the processes and procedures put into place through collective bargaining with police unions.

Baltimore did try to hold the police responsible for Gray's death accountable in the courts but failed. The police are now countersuing and claiming malicious prosecution. We can embrace the idea that the officers should not be criminally punished because a jury was unconvinced, but it doesn't mean we should accept that they should be allowed to return to duty. But complex protective measures pushed by unions make it hard to get rid of cops. And even when cops do get forced out because of misconduct or incompetence, police unions have resisted mechanisms of transparency, making it easier for bad officers to get jobs elsewhere.

All of which is to say we should be skeptical of these agreements because they end up obscuring the accountability issue with a host of other expensive training programs and bureaucratic demands. They do not want to address the problem that labor practices have resulted in a policies that protect officers at the expense of the public they're supposed to be protecting.

NEXT: Trump Calls CNN Fake News, Rex Tillerson Says Islam a 'Great Religion', Hollywood Says Goodbye to Obama: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Many of these consent agreements are all about training and documentation and bureaucratic record-keeping. They’re not actually about holding individual police officers accountable for misconduct.

    Uh, more paperwork isn’t punishment? Carpal tunnel syndrome is just one of many weapons available to the anti-cop left in the War on Police.

    1. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,

      go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,, http://www.foxnews20.com

  2. “I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong. 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.”

    Oh, I’m sure there is that “concern” – but I’d feel better if he had even one example of the DoJ getting involved when it’s “just individuals within a department that have done wrong” and not when the problem isn’t just that there’s a few bad cops, it’s that the entire rest of the police department looks the other way. Which makes them all bad cops. It’s not just “an impression” being created that the cops who cover up for bad cops are also bad cops and if there’s no effective oversight or accountability it’s a rotten police force top to bottom.

    1. The said rotten police force gets its marching and shooting orders from rotten looter politicians. There was a time when such creatures who “only followed orders” were tried and hanged in Nuremberg. The kingpin politicians were simply “de-nazified” and went back to their jobs as Christian socialist politicians under the Government of Occupation. But now we’re back to the mock trials specifically mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.
      Such is progress in our mystical prohibitionist secret ballot mixed economy.

  3. It’s Balmer. There’s your answer. There ain’t no fixing it. Democrats have been running the joint for the last 50 years. The thugs will keep on thuggin, the Democrats will keep keeping their inner city hellholes, hellholes, keep getting re-elected, and the cops will keep on beating and killing and will not be held accountable, and nothing will change.

  4. Is the guy in that picture in Whiteface?

    1. It’s probably one of the stupid white proggies here who went down to support BLM and got beaten up and robbed by the people they were trying to help.

  5. I don’t like the garden gnome, not even one little bit. But I’m going to say this. There isn’t anything that Jeff Sessions can do to make Baltimore any better or any worse. Not a damn thing. Nothing will change. It’s a beautiful city to look at. Just ride around on the water taxi on a nice day. The good parts, yeah, very pretty. But the bad parts are like something out of the 3rd world and the corruption in the solidly Democrat government. Wow, it’s Detroit level shit, folks. Nothing will change here.

    1. Baltimore is a mostly nice city with some really shitty parts. But that describes pretty much every city. Baltimore just gets a bad wrap because it has such a high level of organized criminal violence that is, for the most part, confined to people who participate in it.

      1. The nice parts are really nice, like I said, but most of it is a sprawling ghetto with some surrounding ghettos in training. Isolated nice areas, surrounded by or bordering on hell.

  6. They should make a board game based on Baltimore and name it ‘Slum Lord Millionaire’. Oh no, your property manager on the West side just got carjacked and murdered! You lose $50,000 and go back 3 spaces!

  7. BOTH parties wrote platforms of intentions. Neither offered to repeal prohibitions on some enjoyable drugs. Hence, both promised to keep sending men with guns to “make an example” of a few uppity scofflaws. That’s what the initiation of deadly force is all about. It’s why the cops were sent with guns. If the media aren’t lying (a BIG if), 96% of the mentally handicapped persons we call voters whose prohibitionism AND the initiation of deadly force as their form and mechanism of government. And BOTH looter parties got exactly what they advertised. Why the yelping?

  8. These consent decrees are mostly useless, unless you’re a politically connected lawyer looking for a steady and easy paycheck as a monitor.

    But Sessions’s opposition to them is made worse by that fact, and there’s no such thing as a good department being falsely depicted as a bad one by these consent decrees.

    1. start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this ? 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail?

      ??? http://www.JobMax6.com

  9. I really feel bad for people stuck in these depressed areas. If only it were legal to start your own business without going through the red tape of Government. It worked for Italians, Irish, and Jews. It’s just so tough now, where even selling individual cigarettes might get you killed.

    I think if people had some hope, they might care more about their own neighborhoods. Statists have been telling them for decades that they can’t make it without the loving hand of Government to help them.

  10. All of which is to say we should be skeptical of these agreements because they end up obscuring the accountability issue with a host of other expensive training programs and bureaucratic demands.

    Agreed, it seems so often that the response in situations like this is increasing some paperwork or accreditation. But none of this matters because the actions of the departments are still hidden in secrecy, and the cops are not held accountable anyway.

    Like the Ferguson pay raise you mention. Police say they will institute reforms, but need money for it. And so now suddenly their horrid behavior has led to a large cash prize for them.

  11. Ella . although Margaret `s article is super, on friday I got a new McLaren F1 after having earned $4887 this-past/four weeks and just over ten grand last-month . this is actually my favourite-work Ive had . I actually started six months/ago and right away began to earn minimum $82 p/h
    . Read more on this site…..

    ================= http://www.homejobs7.com

  12. I can see what your saying… Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I’ve ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr
    . Read more on this site…..
    ==================
    http://www.homejobs7.com

  13. The best part of work is from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week. Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more info Check the following link

    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.homejobs7.com

  14. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ================> http://www.homejobs7.com

  15. My best friend’s wife makes Bucks75/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over Bucks9000 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    Read more on this site
    ================== http://www.homejobs7.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.