DOJ rolls back program intended to identify problems in police departments
The Department of Justice announced Friday that it’s rolling back an Obama-era program created to help improve trust between police agencies and the communities they serve.
The department said it’s making significant changes to an office that investigated and issued public reports about problems it found in individual police departments.
DOJ said the changes to the program “will return control to the public safety personnel sworn to protect their communities and focus on providing real-time technical assistance to best address the identified needs of requesting agencies to reduce violent crime.”
The move falls in line with Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies and President Trump’s pro-police administration.
The changes target the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance. DOJ described it in 2016 as a “a long-term strategy that first identifies issues within an agency that may affect public trust and then offers recommendations based on a comprehensive agency assessment for how to resolve those issues and enhance the relationship between the police and the community.”
“Changes to this program will fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability, while still delivering important tailored resources to local law enforcement to fight violent crime,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
As The Washington Post reported, DOJ’s civil rights division has for decades conducted “pattern or practice’’ probes of troubled police departments to determine whether there are systemic problems that require a court-appointed monitor to correct. The COPS office had reportedly been expanding in recent years.
“This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support,” according to the DOJ.
In May, Sessions directed federal prosecutors across the country to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible and last month lifted a ban on the transfer of surplus military equipment to state and local police.
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