Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

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Baltimore Delegation Lauds Final Approval of Consent Decree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Daniel Jacobs
Apr 7, 2017
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen with Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) praised the action of Judge James Bredar for formalizing the consent decree that was agreed to by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Baltimore to address systemic civil rights violations. The agreement followed an exhaustive federal pattern-or-practice investigation. Earlier this week, the Trump Administration DOJ had attempted to delay implementation of the decree.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland is an important step forward to bringing much-needed and long-overdue reforms to the Baltimore City Police Department. Last year’s ‘pattern or practice’ report on BPD, which detailed years of systemic civil rights violations with little accountability for misconduct, was a call to action for everyone in Baltimore.

“We strongly agree with the Court’s opinion that the decree is ‘fair, adequate, and reasonable’ as well as the ‘certainty that there must be effective and constitutional policing in order for the City of Baltimore to thrive...Now, it is time to enter the decree and thereby require all involved to get to work on repairing the many fractures so poignantly revealed by the record.’ We thank the many individuals and organizations who participated in yesterday’s public fairness hearing before the court and shared their stories.

“We look forward as a Congressional delegation to rolling up our sleeves and working hard to effectively implement the consent decree and now order of the court. We will work with Mayor Pugh, Police Commissioner Davis, the U.S. Department of Justice, Governor Hogan, the Maryland General Assembly, civil rights groups, community organizations and other interested parties to make sure the City of Baltimore has the resources it needs to finally bring the citizens of Baltimore the type of police force it deserves. Our Baltimore police officers should have the best possible training, equipment and resources to carry out their sworn duty to protect, serve and rebuild trust with the community.

“We supported the Baltimore City request that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division open a federal pattern or practice investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department shortly after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore. Despite their new-found hesitancy, we intend to hold the DOJ accountable as a legally bound partner in this effort with a common goal of protecting the federal civil rights of the citizens of Baltimore.”

Background

Earlier this week, the Members sent a letter to Attorney General Sessions urging him to rescind his request to delay the consent decree.

In May 2015, all Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Lynch in support of then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s request to have the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division open a federal “pattern or practice” investigation of BPD.  

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