Consent decree announced for Baltimore police; What could it mean for Chicago?

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BALTIMORE  —Nearly two years after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody led to protests, Baltimore and the US Justice Department agreed to terms Thursday on sweeping police reforms that include cameras in all police transport vans.

The 227-page consent decree comes after the Justice Department monitored Baltimore’s policing methods for more than a year after the 2015 death of Gray, who suffered a fatal injury while being transported in a police van.

“We now require cameras in those vans,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said.

“We want to make sure that individuals are transported singularly and that they’re strapped into those vans correctly and that people are not harmed in that process.”

But the troubled police department’s problems went beyond its transport of prisoners.

The decree also mandates community oversight; new recruitment policies; additional training on stops, searches and arrests; an emphasis on “de-escalation, using tactics that defuse incidents”; and sexual assault investigations that promote “victim-centered, trauma-informed approach and combat gender bias.”

“Through this agreement, we are moving forward together to heal the tension in the relationship between (the police department) and the community it serves,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference, flanked by the mayor and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

“We have no illusions that the change we seek will be easy,” Lynch added. “It will require a great deal of work from the leadership and officers of the Baltimore Police Department. It will require persistent feedback and input from community members.”

The decree was filed in federal court, and — after the expected approval by a judge — a period of community input will be followed by the selection of a monitor to oversee the police department.

Today’s agreement in Baltimore is a consent decree.  Tomorrow, the Dept of Justice will announced their findings of their 13 month investigation into the Chicago Police Dept.

According to an official familiar with the findings, the justice department found constitutional abuses by the department.

Chicago is expected to be a softer “agreement in principle” than the consent decree in Baltimore

It will promise a series of changes.  The big difference may be in how it’s enforced.

WGN’s Ben Bradley has more.