Looks Like Jeff Sessions Wants To Roll Back Police Oversight Reforms

The move “signals an alarming retreat away from ensuring that police departments engage in constitutional policing."

By Eric Shorey

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of federal laws that regulates police behavior, according to The New York Times. The apparent goal is an attempt to increase police powers.

Sessions, more manifestly, is making sure that law enforcement agencies are in accord with the Trump administration's ideology and especially wants to ensure that “the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn” the work police officers perform “in keeping American communities safe.”

"I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong," Sessions had said in January."These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that."

What that means in reality is that police writ large should not be held accountable for corrupted officers or specific bad behaviors. The review quite obviously fails to address, or perhaps intentionally ignores, systematic problems within police forces accross the United States.

Another goal of the review is to roll back former President Obama's attempts at improving local relations with police in cities like Baltimore or Chicago. The justice department cannot do this without approval from courts.

The move “signals an alarming retreat away from ensuring that police departments engage in constitutional policing," says Vanita Gupta, who who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama and negotiated the Baltimore consent decree.

Sessions has similarly been dismissive of reports that indivate police should be monitored morehe says the goal of his latest move is to "ensure public safety."

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is undermining and obstructing extensive efforts that have been made to promote policing reform in a small set of the most broken police departments in our country,” said Kristen Clarke, leader of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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