The Obama administration has waged war on law enforcement.
Part of their goal was to federalize police practices to make local police conform to liberal standards of conduct.
They used one tool to press local law enforcement under their thumb, and it’s created a mess for Donald Trump to clean up.
Obama’s Department of Justice has used consent decrees to crack down on local police forces.
Generally what occurs is the Obama administration files a lawsuit against a police force for gross misconduct under the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
The local police force doesn’t contest the suit, and instead accepts federal controls placed on their conduct.
Use of consent decrees skyrocketed under President Obama.
In 2014, the Justice Department bragged that in the last five fiscal years, they opened 20 investigations into local police forces, which was twice as many as from 2004 to 2008.
The Daily Caller reports:
Legal settlements between the Department of Justice and local police departments across the country have skyrocketed under the Obama administration.
The settlements are known as consent decrees and are reached after a federal investigation. The departments typically do not have to admit guilt or liability.
The latest law enforcement agency to enter a consent decree agreement with the DOJ was the Cleveland Police Department, the 16th one since President Obama took office. The Baltimore Police Department entered a consent decree agreement earlier in the month.
Similar to the controversial local policing events leading up to investigations and DOJ consent decree agreements imposed on law enforcement in Baltimore and Cleveland, the death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri eventually triggered a federal investigation.
The Obama administration has embraced the Black Lives Matter rhetoric that police forces are hunting young black men out of racism.
Using this excuse, the Obama administration is using consent decrees to federalize police practices across America.
And the “reforms” imposed line up perfectly with how liberals believe police should conduct their affairs.
This includes teaching police officers they are inherently racist through “implicit bias” training.
The Daily Caller also reports:
“In recent years, DOJ has expanded this focus area to include discussion of ‘implicit’ or ‘unconscious’ bias, by officers who are not aware of biases in their actions,” the Police Executive Research Forum wrote in 2013. “For example, the Seattle findings letter states that ‘biased policing is not primarily about the ill-intentioned officer, but rather the officer who engages in discriminatory practices subconsciously.’”
Cleveland’s consent decree will force the city’s police department, under DOJ enforcement, to follow a police reform plan and provide a systemic process that will deal with officers charged with misconduct. The city of Cleveland also agreed to change its search-and-seizure guidelines, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, and create “bias free” policing strategy.
The Seattle Police Department’s 2012 consent decree “detailed requirements on use of force, crisis intervention, policies and training about stops and detentions, supervision of officers, and bias free policing.”
President Trump has the power to curtail this crackdown on law enforcement.
In his confirmation hearing for the position of Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions expressed his skepticism for consent decrees.
The Washington Examiner reports:
“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,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “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.”
He said it’s not “necessarily a bad thing” that decrees are court-ordered and court-binding, but he did seem to signal that he would not seek them out.
“It’s a difficult thing for a city to be sued by the Department of Justice and to be told that your police department is systemically failing to serve the people of the state or the city,” he said. “So that’s an august responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice and so [cities] often feel forced to agree to a consent decree just to remove that stigma, and sometimes there are difficulties there, so I just think we need to be careful and respectful of departments.”
He has the power to not issue them, and allow local police to use practices that best fit their community.
Cleaning up the Obama administration’s war on the police is just one of the messes President Trump will need to set straight.