Plan to overhaul Baltimore’s police goes before the public

Published 10:03 am Thursday, April 6, 2017

BALTIMORE — A proposed plan to overhaul Baltimore’s troubled police force faces public scrutiny Thursday despite the Department of Justice’s efforts to delay the hearing.

A judge on Wednesday denied an attempt to delay the public airing, calling the request by President Donald Trump’s administration a “burden and inconvenience.”

The Justice Department asked for the delay earlier this week, saying it needed time to review the plan and determine whether the proposal would hinder efforts to fight violent crime. U.S. District Judge James Bredar said the hearing would go on as scheduled Thursday.

Email newsletter signup

Pushing back the hearing at the last minute would be a “burden and inconvenience to the court, other parties, and most importantly, the public,” the judge said.

Bredar noted that it was “highly unusual” that both the city and the Justice Department had requested the hearing to allow Baltimore residents to publicly comment on the proposed consent decree. To accommodate the throngs of people, other judges cleared their dockets for the day, and the hearing was widely advertised, the judge said.

“The primary purpose of this hearing is to hear from the public,” he wrote. “It would be especially inappropriate to grant this late request for a delay when it would be the public who were most adversely affected by a postponement.”

Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior declined comment.

Last month, a dozen organizations and about 50 people submitted 195 pages of written comments on the proposed agreement, which the city reached with the Justice Department during the last days of the Obama Administration.