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Fed lawmakers praise court decision on consent decree hearing

Reporter Kevin Rector discuses Federal Judge James K. Bredar's denial of the DOJ request for a 90-day pause in Baltimore's consent decree case. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

Five lawmakers who represent Baltimore in Congress praised a decision by a federal judge Wednesday to move forward with a public hearing on an agreement between Baltimore and Justice Department to overhaul city police practices.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar ruled that granting the Trump administration's request for a 90-day pause in the case "at the eleventh hour would be to unduly burden and inconvenience the Court." The Justice Department had asked this week for a delay to review the proposed consent decree, negotiated by the Obama administration.

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"This ruling is a win for the people of Baltimore," the Democratic members of the congressional delegation said in a joint statement. "The Justice Department's attempt to delay the implementation of the consent decree would have greatly impeded our progress in rebuilding trust between the community and police. The consent decree has the strong support of both the mayor and police commissioner of Baltimore.

"We are now on the path to much-needed and long-overdue reforms, which we hope will make BPD a model for the nation," the lawmakers wrote. "The Justice Department and Attorney General Sessions should be supporting our efforts, not seeking to undermine them."

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The statement was issued by Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen as well as Reps. Elijah Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes.

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