Attorney General Jeff Sessions Plans To Roll Back Decades Of Police Reform

Posted April 06, 2017

The Justice Department would have to convince either judge to sign off on any major alterations to the NOPD and Sheriff's Office consent decrees.

The Justice Department's report looked at 600 use-of-force incidents between 2010 and 2013 and found that Cleveland Police had a "pattern or practice" of using excessive force.

Sessions said the principle backing the memo is that "the misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe".

The president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, which has always been critical of how Cleveland police treat blacks and minorities, said Tuesday that Sessions' memo "is no more than politics being played out on the backs of victims of police brutality". The government's request for a 90-day continuance came three days before a scheduled hearing before a federal judge.

MARTIN: What do you make of this move by the Justice Department? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's police chief also said in a joint statement yesterday they are committed to following through on the police reforms recommended by the DOJ's report whether or not the federal government is involved. After such an increase in violence, it was indeed appropriate to review policing practices, but the Obama administration's penchant for presuming widespread racism within the culture of law enforcement raises the question as to both the effectiveness and legitimacy of these new policing reforms. "Indeed, the City Council is now moving forward to finalize details of the reform package, and the ACLU is supporting a strong, independent voice for the Community Police Commission". Civil rights activists are fearful that Sessions' memo could imperil agreements that have not been finalized, including an agreement with the Chicago Police Department.

Marshall said since the DOJ is the plaintiff in the settlement it would be possible for it to pull out of the agreement.

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Jeff Sessions sounded skeptical of consent decrees, the legal reform agreements that the Justice Department had negotiated with troubled police forces. But those proposed reforms, in their current state, face opposition from the Community Policing Commission members who say they don't go far enough to ensure independent oversight. But law-and-order conservatives dislike the consent decrees, saying they unfairly paint cops as racially biased and, well, handcuff them from using police tactics that protect them from violent criminals.

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Nelson, who experienced grave tragedy growing up, joined the organization as a way to help others experiencing similar grief. Her father, James, was a Port Authority police officer who was killed in the September 11 attacks, KFOR reported .

The Obama Justice Department opened roughly two dozen investigations of police departments, and 14 of them ended in consent decrees.

"There were no backroom deals, no sleight of hand", Davis said.

In New Orleans, the man appointed to oversee the reforms of that city's police department said the agreement there still stands.

In Baltimore, the homicide rate began to climb after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody prompted civil unrest in 2015.

The court will only hear comments about whether the consent decree is "fair, adequate, and reasonable and is not illegal, the product of collusion, or against the public interest", the order says.

Baltimore officials, either unaware of the danger of the consent decree as a first step to federal control, or else party to the effort, were appalled at Sessions' request.

The Justice Department investigation, which concluded in December 2014, cites a number of questionable events, including the 137-shot barrage of police gunfire that killed two unarmed black people after a high-speed pursuit involving more than 100 officers.

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