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Federal Police Reform Will Go On as Planned in Baltimore Despite Trump Administration’s Attempt to Stop It

BALTIMORE, MD - ARPIL 21: Baltimore Police officers look on during a rally for Freddie Gray in front of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station, April 21, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, died from spinal injuries on April 19, one week after being taken into police custody. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

While his boss fires missiles at Syria and his colleagues in the Donald Trump administration call each other cucks, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has spent the week attempting to dismantle federal police reforms that were put in place by the Obama administration. Sessions focused his energy on reviewing a set of agreements that had been previously reached between the Department of Justice and several troubled police departments, putting special emphasis on scuttling one such agreement that had not yet been formally adopted by the courts in Baltimore. Today, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar went ahead and approved the Baltimore consent decree, adopting the reforms despite Sessions’ protests.

“The case is no longer in a phase where any party is unilaterally entitled to reconsider the terms of the settlement; the parties are bound to each other by their prior agreement,” Bredar wrote in a court order, which is effective immediately, the Baltimore Sun reports. “The time for negotiating the agreement is over. The only question now is whether the Court needs more time to consider the proposed decree. It does not.”

What that means in terms of policy is that the city will be required to give its officers new training in de-escalation, implicit bias, and interacting with young people and people with mental illnesses. The decree also limits the ways in which the department is allowed to engage with suspects, the Sun reports, and installs a federal monitor to ensure that the terms of the decree are kept.

The irony here is that the defendants in the case–the city of Baltimore–wanted the decree to be adopted, and the prosecutors–the DOJ–did not. After the killing of Freddie Gray and the riots that ensued in 2015, a new mayoral and police commissioner took power with the explicit promise of reforming the police department. A similar reversal has happened at the DOJ under Trump and Sessions, both of them longtime law-and-order zealots. In other words, Sessions wants to look like an ally of police, but he’s spent the last week attempting to go against the wishes of the police department in question. For now, the Baltimore Police–and the reformers–are winning.