Jeff Sessions directs Justice Department to review police reform agreements

Jeff Sessions.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed Justice Department officials to review the reform agreements reached between the department's civil rights division under the Obama administration and police departments nationwide. In a memo, Sessions says the point of the review is to make sure the agreements are aligned with the Trump administration's focus on protecting police and improving officer morale.

Sessions said his top two deputies will review the reform agreements, also known as consent decrees. The memo was released right after DOJ lawyers from the civil rights department asked a federal judge to postpone for at least 90 days a hearing on a consent decree with Baltimore's police department. That agreement, designed to keep officers from violating the civil rights of residents, was reached in the wake of Freddie Grey's death in 2015 from injuries sustained while in Baltimore police custody.

In a filing on Monday, the DOJ said it needed time to determine if the agreement fits with "the directives of the president and the attorney general." This move is opposed by Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, with Pugh telling The Washington Post, "Any interruption in moving forward may have the effect of eroding trust that we are working hard to establish." Civil rights activists are also concerned that this new directive could put in jeopardy agreements that have not yet been finalized, including one with Chicago's police department.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.