DOJ to unveil police reforms in Baltimore

(CNN)The Justice Department will unveil an agreement mandating police reforms in Baltimore on Thursday, federal officials said.

A consent decree is expected to be signed by city officials in a special morning meeting, CNN-affiliate WBAL-TV reported. The decree would likely require better tracking of problematic officers, more documentation of citizen interaction and use of force reporting, the station reported.

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    Sessions’ testimony on police reform

    During Tuesday’s hearing, Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono asked whether the DOJ nominee would commit to maintaining and enforcing consent decrees. Sessions responded that a decree isn’t “necessarily a bad thing.” But, he remained wary of lawsuits against police departments.
    “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,” Sessions said. “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.”
    North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis followed up and asked Sessions whether the DOJ would help if cities asked for assistance. Sessions said, if asked, they would help.
    “I think it’s a good thing, that police departments might call on federal investigators,” Sessions said.
    Yet, the senator cautioned against undermining police departments.
    “It really is important that people trust police departments and the police departments have respect from their communities, and when you don’t have that, people’s safety is at risk.” Sessions said.

    DOJ’s Chicago investigation

    Baltimore isn’t the only pending investigation by the DOJ into police departments, the Ville Platte and Chicago police are also under the radar.
    At some point, the DOJ is also expected to release the results of an investigation of the Chicago police department.
    Known as a “pattern and practice” inquiry, it’s expected to focus on use of force, deadly force accountability and how the Chicago police force “tracks and treats” those incidents, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said when she announced the investigation in December 2015.
    In an unrelated news conference Wednesday, Lynch said she couldn’t comment on when the Chicago report would be released but said justice officials have been working “very diligently” with the city and police department.
    “We do intend to push through and … give the city of Chicago, both law enforcement and the communities, the help that they deserve so that they can in fact work on this issues,” Lynch said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/12/us/baltimore-consent-decree/index.html