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Commentary By Jason L. Riley

Baltimore Lets Criminals Have a Say About Cops

Public Safety, Culture Policing, Crime Control, Race

Despite an objection from the U.S. attorney general, a dangerous city weakens the hand of law enforcement

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has expressed “grave concerns” about an agreement—one devised by his predecessor and approved last week by a federal judge despite Mr. Sessions’s objections—to overhaul Baltimore’s police department. The rest of us ought to be worried as well.

Mr. Sessions fears that the consent decree will reduce “the lawful powers of the police department,” resulting in one of America’s most violent cities becoming even more dangerous. “Baltimore has seen a 22 percent increase in violent crime in just the last year,” he said in a statement on Friday. “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.” After eight years of attorneys general who wanted to focus on the conduct of police, it’s nice to have one who wants to prioritize the conduct of criminals.

Unfortunately, the Baltimore consent decree makes that more difficult by weakening the hand of law enforcement to various degrees. It bans officers from approaching people who are illegally loitering or trespassing unless someone has called the police to lodge a complaint. It prohibits police from using “an individual’s geographic location, such as presence in a high-crime area or proximity to the scene of suspected or reported crimes” as a basis for stopping and questioning a person. Nor can a police stop be based on someone’s “response to the presence of police officers, such as an individual’s attempt to avoid contact with an officer” or “an individual’s presence in the company of others suspected of criminal activity.”

The agreement directs police to....

Read the entire piece here at The Wall Street Journal


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator.

This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal