If You're a Rogue Cop, Jeff Sessions Has Your Back

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From Esquire

Sooner or later, I suppose, the Confederate States of America are going to get tired of all this winning.

The federal consent decree has proved to be a valuable tool in rolling back the abuses committed by law enforcement against the citizens it is sworn to protect and serve. This has been particularly true regarding the relationship between minority communities and their local police. The way you can tell how valuable a tool the consent decree has been is by the vigor with which the various police departments affected by a consent decree have pushed back against them.

Now, though, those police departments have a friend at the Justice Department. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has had enough of coddling the people who have been law-enforcement-ed to death in recent years, as The New York Times reports.

In a memorandum dated March 31 and made public Monday, the attorney general directed his staff to look at whether law enforcement programs adhere to principles put forth by the Trump administration, including one declaring that "the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn" the work police officers perform "in keeping American communities safe." As part of its shift in emphasis, the Justice Department went to court on Monday to seek a 90-day delay in a consent decree to overhaul Baltimore's embattled Police Department. That request came just days before a hearing, scheduled for Thursday in the United States District Court in Baltimore, to solicit public comment on the agreement, which was reached in principle by the city and the Justice Department in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Let us review the "individual misdeeds of bad actors" that caused the Baltimore P. D. to have a consent decree dropped on it. It all stemmed from the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who was bad-actor'ed badly enough that his spine was severed. The Atlantic proves to be a useful guide:

One African American man was stopped 34 times during that stretch, all in the Western or Central districts, while several hundred others were stopped at least 10 times. Seven were stopped more than 30 times. "BPD officers made 520 stops for every 1,000 black residents in Baltimore, but only 180 stops for every 1,000 Caucasian residents," the Justice Department report notes. Baltimore police routinely trample on First Amendment rights, arresting "members of the public for engaging in speech the officers perceive to be critical or disrespectful." Supervisors have encouraged "facially unconstitutional" arrests for trespassing. One shift commander emailed a template for such arrests to officers and a sergeant...Central to the Gray case was how the 25-year-old was mortally wounded. He appeared to be healthy when arrested and placed in a police van, but his spine was nearly severed by the time he was removed less than an hour later. A judge ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that police had intentionally harmed him by driving recklessly-a practice known as a "rough ride"-but there has been evidence of rough rides in Baltimore and other cities in the past. The Justice Department said it could not gather enough evidence to determine whether rough rides are common, but it said that the department "routinely fails to properly secure arrestees in transport vehicles ... fails to keep necessary records," and needs to better monitor vans. While many vans are equipped with video cameras, "Many of these cameras ceased to function shortly after the vans were put in use, however, and have not been repaired."

That is the stuff behind which the current Department of Justice is lining up. From the Times:

Mr. Sessions has expressed deep skepticism about the value of consent decrees like the one planned for Baltimore, saying they vilify the police, and he has indicated that he wants to scale them back. In a speech in February, his first as attorney general, he said that the federal government's role should be to "help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness." Mr. Sessions said the agreements were demoralizing to the police and could be generating a rise in violence and murders in some large cities, a contention that has been challenged by many criminologists.

The attorney general of the United States believes that minority citizens need to be controlled by whatever means necessary, to coin a phrase. The Department of Justice now has the back of every rogue cop in the country. Old times there are not forgotten.

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