BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A judge has denied the U.S. Justice Department’s request to postpone a public hearing on the proposal to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department.
The changes were agreed to earlier this year, and a hearing is now scheduled for Thursday.
The DOJ asked for things to be postponed for 90 days, citing a review of police reform agreements under the new administration.
In this latest round, the government lost. The judge said their request to delay was too little too late.
In a stinging response, the judge said no to the DOJ’s request to postpone a public hearing on an agreement that would reform the Baltimore Police Department.
“To postpone at the eleventh hour would unduly burden and inconvenience” all parties involved.
This has been months in the making. Judge James Bredar said numerous logistical hurdles had to be overcome, and to grant the DOJ’s request would be “especially inappropriate” and it would be the public “most adversely affected.”
“It’s been in my conversation all day,” said Ray Kelly, of the No Boundaries Coalition and works in Sandtown.
He’s been vocal about the changes he wants in the police department.
“It’s far from over and there is still implementation that has to happen and that’s why we are adamant about no delays because we’ve been waiting two years,” Kelly said.
But a legal expert tells WZ the order is not a sign of the ultimate decision the judge will make once it’s all said and done.
“I think at this point the Justice Department is still trying to figure out what it wants to do, so it wanted to hit pause to give itself more time, and what judge Bredar said today was, at least ask that the hearing tomorrow, we’re going ahead,” said attorney Andrew Freeman of Brown Goldstein and Levy Law Firm.
Government mandated police reforms are also being negotiated in cities like Chicago.
The attorney general has voiced skepticism on the effectiveness of these agreements.
“It can impact moral of the officers, it can impact and affect the view of citizens to their police department,” Jeff Sessions said.
The mayor and police commissioner echoed the same goal Wednesday as the agreement was finalized.
“I believe that the flavor of the trump administration should not have an impact on how we move forward, because we are going to move forward regardless,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The judge who denied the government’s request for an extension said “it is reasonable to expect that hundreds” will show up Thursday for the public hearing.
WJZ contacted the DOJ for comment after their request to postpone was denied. A spokesperson declined to comment.
Both Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore PD opposed the delay.
“I am pleased to learn that the request for a continuance by the Justice Department was denied by the federal judge overseeing the police consent decree,” Pugh wrote in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “The City of Baltimore is ready to move forward to rebuild the important relationship which exists between the community and our police department. The crucial next step of receiving public input occurs tomorrow. I hope citizens will take advantage of this opportunity to have their voices heard. It will take all of us — City government, the police department, and the families and residents of our great City — to see this reform process through.”