Sessions: Consent Decrees ‘Can Reduce The Morale Of Police Officers’

Susan Walsh

Attorney General Jeff Sessions restated his opposition to agreements made between the Justice Department and a number of police departments during the Obama administration on Thursday, saying that the consent decree agreements “can reduce the morale of police officers.”

“I do share your concern that these investigations and consent decrees have the, can turn bad,” Sessions told radio host Howie Carr, in an interview surfaced by CNN. “They can reduce morale of the police officers. They can push back against being out on the street in a proactive way.”

Sessions has long stated his opposition to the agreements, which are court-enforceable. The Obama Justice Department turned to the agreements in the wake of high-profile events like the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; or Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland at the hands of police.

“We’ve got to be careful, protect people’s civil rights. You can’t have police officers abusing their power. We will not have that,” he said later in the interview, after referring to the so-called “broken windows”-style of policing in New York, which prioritizes low-level offenses.

“But there are lawful approved, constitutional policies that places – New York is – the murder rate is well below a lot of these other cities that aren’t following these tactics,” he said.

Last week, Sessions ordered the Justice Department to review the agreements it had reached with police departments across the country during the Obama administration.

A federal judge in Baltimore signed off on the city’s consent decree with the government a few days later, calling Sessions’ request for more time to consider the agreement “problematic.”

“The parties have already agreed to the draft before the Court,” U.S. District Judge James Bredar wrote. “It would be extraordinary for the Court to permit one side to unilaterally amend an agreement already jointly reached and signed.”

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