DOJ tightens grip on local police departments

Yesterday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced new rules governing the federal monitors who impose their leftist views of policing on police forces trying to cope with skyrocketing criminality. These monitors exercise the authority of the federal government through consent decrees imposed on localities.

Under Donald Trump, the Justice Department wisely stopped pursuing consent decrees. However, the Biden DOJ, under the leadership of BLM-supporting Vanita Gupta and racist Kristen Clarke, is diving back into the consent decree business with a vengeance.

But these intrusive consent decrees are unpopular, so Garland needs to sell the Biden administration’s version as kindler, gentler, and more reasonable than the regime Gupta herself administered when she had that power during the Obama administration. Hence, the rollout of reforms.

The Washington Post does its part to sell these lipstick-on-a-pig revisions. In David Nakamura’s report, we learn that federal monitoring teams will “be subject to unspecified term limits” and “periodic performance reviews by the federal judge in charge” of the decree.

That sounds good. No one wants these monitors to enrich themselves by dragging out their terms indefinitely. And who can oppose performance reviews?

But the real issue is the extent to which the monitors will impose ideas and practices that are inimical to strong, effective policing. Term limits don’t speak to that issue. Performance reviews by judges can cut either way, depending on the ideology of the reviewing judge. They can also be perfunctory, as most people who have supervised or been supervised can attest.

If one reads Nakamura’s article carefully, it becomes clear that the Biden DOJ “reforms” will serve the Department’s BLM-oriented agenda. They will enhance the ability of the two leading DOJ race radicals — Gupta and Clarke — to force police departments to do their bidding.

For example, we learn that “the monitors would have to meet federal standards before being hired and undergo training once on the job.” If Gupta didn’t require this during the Obama years, it’s surprising. In any event, this “reform” seems calculated to ensure that Gupta, Clarke, and other DOJ ideologues have more power over local police departments, not less.

Another rule would allow the Justice Department and the judge to slim down the scope of the consent decrees — which, says the Washington Post, “typically mandate that jurisdictions meet hundreds of requirements before the federal oversight is lifted” (emphasis added). This slimming down would make the decrees “less onerous as law enforcement agencies demonstrate progress,” the Post explains.

This reform sounds good, but it’s a double-edged sword at best because it increases the ability of Gupta and her gang to coerce departments into agreeing to and implementing measures they deem demonstrative of progress. To switch metaphors, this is the classic carrot-stick approach, and the carrot can be as poisonous as the Gupta-Clarke team choose to make it.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, says he likes the DOJ’s reform. He notes that his group has lobbied for nearly two decades for the Justice Department to provide greater oversight of federal monitors.

Two decades ago, greater federal oversight of federal monitors would have been welcome. But these days there’s no basis for perceiving any ideological distance between left-wing, defund-the-police favoring monitors and Kristen Clarke who, until her “confirmation conversion” advocated defunding the police.

Touting the reforms that enhance her power, Gupta bragged that her team conducted more than 50 meetings with “stakeholders,” (am I the only person who dislikes this overused word?) including local political leaders, law enforcement officials, former and current monitors, and community members. The Post says she “emphasized the importance of community input in the consent decree process and instructed monitors to engage with residents, including through the use of town-hall-style meetings and social media.”

This is an invitation for left-wing BLM activists to enhance their influence over policing. To be sure, there are plenty of residents who would like to see a larger, more forceful police presence in their crime-ridden neighborhoods. But the left is far better organized than ordinary residents, and thus more able to mobilize for “town-hall-style meetings.”

The Biden administration faces a mounting crisis in the form of rampant criminality. Even the leftists in my suburb are suddenly complaining on local message boards about crime, and wondering why the police force isn’t doing more to prevent it.

A kinder, gentler approach to coercing local police forces — even a genuine one, which the Garland/Gupta/Clarke is not — still swims against the current, both in political terms and in terms of public safety. Police departments need to be entirely free from federal government coercion.

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