Monday, January 16, 2017

DOJ "Ankle-Bracelets" The Chicago and Baltimore Police

With only days left at her job as Attorney General, Loretta Lynch announced that she has reached a "consent decree" with the cities of Baltimore and Chicago.  Under the "consent" of those two cities, the police departments will be forced to address the findings of abuse and violations of civil rights that were found to be "systemically" present in the year-long investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  As a result, police compliance under these "consent decrees" will be subject to a federal judge's review over the next 5 years and extending beyond 5 years, if compliance isn't achieved.

What is interesting is that there are now 20 police departments under "consent decrees" in this country, and in every case, the civil rights and abuse charges were always the same.  They are always defined by the DOJ as "systemic".  In other words, the violations are part of a "planned" and police-wide policy.  Even a reasonable person might find that claim to be quite unbelievable. Especially when it involves the arrest and treatment of minorities.  More importantly, the word "systemic" implies that there is rarely fair treatment of minorities by the police in these communities. 

The Washington Post/Frontline studied the DOJ's record of changing police departments as a result of these "consent decrees" and the results were mixed.  In many of those communities that were under federal supervision, crime spiked.  Also, in many cases, compliance can take more than a decade because of a revolving door of police chiefs during the process, coupled with a high rate of officers quitting.  In Detroit, for example, the compliance took 11 years and required the replacement of 8 police chiefs.  In Los Angeles, the taxpayers paid $300 million for reforms.  I think this quote from the Washington Post/Frontline report says it all:
"Officer morale in some of the departments plummeted during the interventions, according to interviews. Collectively, the departments have cycled through 52 police chiefs as the agencies tried to meet federal demands. Some departments have struggled to sustain reforms once oversight ended, and in some cities, police relations with residents remain strained."
With murders and crimes rising in major cities,  the intervention by the DOJ appears not to be having a positive effect.  Barack Obama's DOJ -- more than any previous administration -- has been particularly heavy-handed at adjudicating against the police; always occurring after the shooting of an  unarmed black person reaches national prominence in the media.  That, in my opinion, makes these investigations both reactionary and political.  More importantly, these kinds of "scathing" reports by the DOJ are putting targets on the backs of our police officers as each new report concludes that they are racist.  More police were killed in 2016 than in any of the previous 5 years, combined.


January 12, 2017: Baltimore, DOJ Reach Agreement On Consent Decree For Baltimore Police:

January 13, 2017: Feds release scathing report on Chicago police abuse:

The DOJ’s jaw-dropping report about the Cleveland Police Department:

The 12 key highlights from the DOJ’s scathing Ferguson report:

Ferguson’s Violent Crime Rate Skyrockets In Aftermath Of Brown Shooting:

Washington Post/Frontline: Forced reforms, Mixed results Federal interventions at troubled police departments across the country drag on for years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars:

DOJ investigations: 20 departments under enforcement agreements:

After Bloodiest Year, Baltimore Murder Rate Still Rising:

Last year, Cleveland suffered a 90 percent jump in homicides:

More police officers shot and killed in 2016 than in past 5 years:


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