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What is the National Police Association, the group that asked Trump to amend Baltimore's police consent decree?

An organization called the National Police Association wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to water down the consent decree mandating reform of the Baltimore Police Department.

But what is the National Police Association, and who is behind it?

The group was created in 2017 and on its website lists no staff or board of directors, only a president and CEO named Ed Hutchison, who lists no biography. Its office address is a post office box in Indianapolis, and its phone number rings to a voicemail box; calls from The Baltimore Sun have not been returned.

Records show Hutchison works as an investigator in the licensing division of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. He previously led an organization called the North American Boxing Council, and ran a “model search” website called USA Dream Girls. It is not clear whether he has law enforcement experience.

The Sun was able to reach the man listed as the vice president of the National Police Association on incorporation documents, filed with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.

Fred Berns is a 79-year-old former boxing promoter. Asked about his role with the National Police Association, Berns said he was not aware he was listed as the vice president and said he had not heard of the organization. He said he knew Hutchison, but had not talked to him in several years.

“He’s always got something going like that,” Berns said of Hutchison’s endeavors. “He’s a pretty bright kid.”

Berns said he met Hutchison when Hutchison was producing karate videos that offered customers the opportunity to attain a black belt.

Berns, who worked as a Chicago police officer from 1961 until 1966, said he believes Hutchison was a reserve officer in Indianapolis, “probably 20 years ago.”

The National Police Association has 61,000 followers on Twitter, including former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton and the National Police Foundation. But its account far pre-dates the creation of the organization, and it appears to have had a different handle before 2017. A search of tweets sent to the account shows it was known then as “@JusticeUnited,” and many tweets sent to the account have to do with Bernie Sanders.

Now, the National Police Association has set its sights on police reform efforts. In late December, it sent out a press release saying it had filed a Massachusetts state bar complaint against Suffolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney-elect Rachael Rollins, alleging she violated ethics rules.

Before that, in October, the group signed on an amicus brief opposing California “sanctuary laws.” Christopher Hajec, an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which incorporated the NPA into the brief, said he couldn’t remember how he linked up with the association, and said he didn’t know about its president’s background. He declined to answer additional questions.

The group is asking people to sign a petition asking the Department of Justice to provide adequate training for Baltimore Police officers but free them from other restrictive provisions of the consent decree.

“Simply put, while the Consent Decree does a tremendous amount of harm, under the veil of ‘social justice’ and ‘community reform’ there exists within the Consent Decree several provisions that permit the DOJ to at least attempt to make changes that conform to reality...,” reads the eight-page letter signed by Hutchison. “The future ahead of BPD is as bleak as it is for the City if this Consent Decree is not modified and/or enforced appropriately.”

The director of the National Fraternal Order of Police told The Sun that he had never heard of the National Police Association, but nevertheless agreed with the letter it had sent to Trump regarding the Baltimore consent decree.

Diane Goldstein, a retired police lieutenant who is the chair of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, has raised questions previously about the National Police Association.

“What’s critically important is that for me, it appears that the National Police Association has nothing to do with law enforcement, and even if they did, what they are doing is pushing back against proper and necessary reforms that are necessary in the criminal justice system,” Goldstein said. “They’re perpetuating the division between law enforcement and the communities that they're supposed to serve.”

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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