An Obama-appointed judge is moving forward with a federal takeover of the Baltimore, Md. police department that critics say will boost crime there by handcuffing police officers in the increasingly violent city.
The pleas of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fell on deaf ears as U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar, appointed by President Obama in 2010, denied a request from Sessions to hold off on enforcing the consent decree drafted by cop-haters for at least 30 days so the new Trump administration could assess the underlying settlement.
“The time for negotiating the agreement is over,” Bredar wrote this past Friday, April 7. “The only question now is whether the Court needs more time to consider the proposed decree. It does not.”
Sessions said he’s in favor of reform but has “grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.”
The consent decree in U.S. v. Police Department of Baltimore City was signed by both sides on Jan. 12, 2017 as President Obama was packing his bags at the White House. (The consent decree may be read here. Bredar’s order requiring immediate enforcement of the decree, may be read here.)
Sessions said the provisions of the consent decree were “negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration,” and at a time when “Baltimore is facing a violent crime crisis.”
Cops across America are shirking their duties because they are quite justifiably afraid of being called racist. This is called the “Ferguson effect,” because it took hold after an August 2014 police shooting of a black suspect in the St. Louis, Mo., suburbs led to huge race riots and catapulted the violent, racist Black Lives Matter movement to national and international prominence.
Baltimore has seen a 22 percent increase in violent crime in just the last year. While arrests in the city fell 45 percent based on some of these ill-advised reforms, homicides rose 78 percent and shootings more than doubled. Just in 2017, we’ve seen homicides are up another 42 percent compared to this time last year. In short, the citizens of Baltimore are plagued by a rash of violent crime that shows no signs of letting up.
Within the consent decree “there are clear departures from many proven principles of good policing that we fear will result in more crime.”
In parts the decree reads like something that could have been written by Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street. The decree installs a professional federal meddler, “to govern every detail of how the Baltimore Police Department functions for the foreseeable future.”
The decree limits “when and how they can engage individuals suspected of criminal activity,” and forces more training on police in de-escalation tactics.
All of this anti-police activism came to a head two years ago after a 25-year-old black drug dealer died in police custody. No matter what Baltimore’s corrupt Democrat-controlled political machine tried, it couldn’t manage to convict anyone in the unusual April 19, 2015 death of Gray, a 25-year-old man with a long arrest record. Gray passed away a week after his arrest after apparently suffering ultimately fatal injuries during transport in a police paddy wagon. There are competing unresolved theories about what killed Gray, ranging from police brutality to Gray inflicting fatal wounds on himself.
Six Baltimore police officers were charged with offenses of varying severity and one after one local juries threw the cases out. By late July 2016, the State of Maryland was forced to drop all remaining charges against cops in Gray’s death.
A report by Vanita Gupta of Obama’s Justice Department accused Baltimore police of widespread “racial bias” and using too much force. Of the six cops, three were white and three were black.
The incendiary Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (D) tried to send the innocent police officers up the river to satisfy the bloodlust of Barack Obama’s friends in the Black Lives Matter movement. Baltimore also led to the Rev. Al Sharpton calling for a federal takeover of local police departments, a proposal previously embraced by the Obama administration.
At the time, law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds described “federalizing local police” as a “lousy” idea.
The idea behind federal supervision of local police forces is that it will make them more accountable. Instead of a bunch of presumptively racist, violent hicks running things on a local level, we’ll see the cool professionalism of the national government in charge.
There are (at least) two problems with this approach. The first is that federal law enforcement, especially in recent years, hasn’t exactly been a haven of cool professionalism. The second is that no law enforcement agency is very good at policing itself, meaning that a national police force is likely to be less accountable, not more.
There is the FBI, with its jaw-droppingly awful director, James Comey, which has been heavily involved in the manufactured Trump-and-the-Russians scandal which was created for partisan purposes to kneecap the Trump transition team and the Trump administration. Despite its arsenal of monitoring technologies, the Secret Service has had difficulty preventing fence-jumping at the White House complex during both the Obama and the Trump presidencies.
Reynolds recounted misbehavior by federal law enforcement, including Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Agency involvement with prostitutes in Colombia, some of which were paid for by drug lords. Federal agents have been accused of stealing Bitcoins during a criminal probe and the Department of Homeland Security couldn’t even keep a postal worker’s gyrocopter away from the U.S. Capitol despite plenty of advance notice.
They’re not very good at keeping up with guns, either. An FBI agent’s sniper rifle was stolen from his car days before an Obama visit, and — right under the eyes of Congress — Capitol Police keep leaving their guns in bathrooms — three times this year, including once in House Speaker John Boehner’s private bathroom, where the gun was found by a visiting child. Then there’s the Capitol Police’s questionable shooting of Miriam Carey after she made a U-turn at a checkpoint in D.C.
This is not an exhaustive list of federal law enforcement wrongdoing, either.
Another problem with centralizing local policing power is that federal law enforcement agencies do a bad job policing themselves. “[U]nify all these police agencies under one umbrella and they’ll do what guilty bureaucrats tend to do — hide the evidence, then investigate themselves and proclaim themselves blameless,” according to Reynolds.
And centralizing itself encourages corruption by the party in power. Conversely, “[p]utting most law enforcement in the hands of diverse state and local authorities helps limit the potential for abuse. Putting everything under federal control, on the other hand, magnifies it.” Federal bureaucrats, Reynolds notes, “are all too willing to serve the interests of their political masters even when doing so violates the law.”
Reynolds recommends ending civil service protections for U.S. government employees, banning public employee unions, and ending governmental immunity for federal, state, and local employees so they will have “to face civil lawsuits for illegal behavior, just as the rest of us must do.”
But, paradoxically, the left-wing Democrat establishment in Charm City is behind the newly enforced consent decree. They may lose control over the local police, a bad thing, but they gain bigger, even more centralized government, which is always a good thing when you’re a left-winger.
Having a federal monitor run the Baltimore police force is only a minor inconvenience for the city’s modern-day ward-heelers. As long as they can still rake in the gravy, they’re fine with it.