With President Barack Obama’s term set to expire next week, Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice were facing a deadline to reach a deal on police reform in the city before Trump takes office. On Wednesday, word came that they have a deal.
A spokesperson for Mayor Catherine Pugh told CBS News that negotiations on the deal were wrapped and documents were ready to be signed. Known as a consent decree, the agreement will set requirements for reform in the Baltimore Police Department. It’s seen as the way to make sure changes happen after a damming investigation by the DOJ that found a pattern of civil rights violations in the department, including racial profiling. Officers regularly used excessive force and made unlawful stops and arrest of black citizens, the DOJ found. The police department’s handling of sexual assault complaints was also a focus of the investigation. That investigation began after the death of Freddie Gray.
More specifics on the agreement weren’t immediately available. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is set to appear in Baltimore on Thursday, and will announce the agreement with Pugh in the morning.
The two sides were racing the clock. The Obama administration has pursued investigations and consent decrees in police departments around the country, but many believe Trump’s administration won’t make it a priority in the same way. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions indicated he would be open to “softening” consent decrees, TPM reported.
And it’s not a done deal yet. The agreement still has to be approved by a federal judge before it takes effect.
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