Garland says the DOJ police chief association will work smarter if it seeks reforms of racial patterns and the use of force.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the U.S. head of law enforcement, said Monday that the Department of Justice will improve its oversight of local police departments following criticism and feedback from police leaders.
Speaking at an online conference of the International Association of Police Chiefs, a group of about 16,000 senior and middle-level police leaders from the U.S. and other countries, Garland acknowledged that it is ‘no secret’ that the Department of Justice is monitoring upset police departments led to frustrations.
Garland announced that it has adopted a recommendation for 19 steps the DOJ can take to improve its oversight and monitoring of local departments that have reached agreements with the DOJ to improve their racial patterns and the use of violent practices.
The new U.S. rules come as police departments across the U.S. continue to struggle following the Black Lives Matter protests that upset the country in 2020. The DOJ is investigating police departments in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Louisville, Kentucky and Phoenix, Arizona after several sensational murders by police officers.
Last week, the head of the state police in Louisiana said he would welcome a ‘pattern and practice’ investigation by the DOJ after an investigation by The Associated Press shows that 67 percent of the violence in the state of Louisiana’s violence against blacks people are targeted.
The AP has uncovered a dozen cases over the past decade in which Louisiana State police officers or their bosses have ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, blamed, and obstructed attempts to eliminate misconduct.
“If the community is worried about it, I’m clearly worried about it,” Colonel Lamar Davis told the AP.
‘I’m a black man. I do not just want to feel like I’m being stopped and thrown over a car, and I do not want anyone else to feel that way. “
The DOJ held 50 listening sessions with police departments, mayors and others before accepting the new recommendations set out in a memorandum by Vanita Gupta, co-attorney general.
Police officers told DOJ officials that while federal oversight is helpful in improving police practices, they are concerned about high costs and a lack of oversight of the officers performing the monitoring.
“While permitting decisions and monitoring are important tools to increase transparency and accountability – the department can and should do more to improve their efficiency and effectiveness,” Garland said in prepared remarks.
Monitors are usually appointed to oversee consent decisions following negotiations between the DOJ and local police and approval by a federal court. They are intended to serve as neutral arbitrators to comply with the terms of the consent decision.
Meanwhile in Minneapolis, where former officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in jail for the death of George Floyd in May 2020, police have withdrawn the arrests, according to the Reuters news service.
Almost immediately afterwards Floyd’s death, Reuters found, police officers stopped to stop and approached fewer people who they saw as suspicious for fear that a meeting could become another flashpoint.
‘There is not a great appetite for aggressive policing, and the risk-reward; we are definitely there and we are sworn to protect and serve, but you must also protect yourself and your family, ”said Scott Gerlicher, a Minneapolis police officer who retired this year.
The new DOJ oversight rules will only apply to future consent decisions.
Monitors will be subject to annual budget limits to prevent them from incurring taxpayer costs for their services. Monitors will be subject to terms and they must undergo performance evaluation after a few years to ensure that they are effective.
After five years, cities and other local jurisdictions will be able to request the court to terminate the monitoring by indicating that the conditions of the settlement are met.
In addition, the rules prevent monitors from “double dipping” by serving in more than one monitoring team at a time.