Jeff Sessions Declares War on Law Enforcement Reform

Obama’s presidency will be remembered for many reasons – environmental initiatives and LGBT civil rights advances, to name a couple. But one aspect of his term is no doubt among the most standout: law enforcement reform.

Though Attorney General Loretta Lynch came to helm the Department of Justice in the latter days of Obama’s second term, she wasted no time addressing the demonstrably rampant abuse of power present in many police departments throughout the country.

Sadly, like much of the progress achieved by Obama’s administration, Trump’s is seemingly working overtime to undo these steps forward. Among the most proactive in this regard is the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Last month Sessions gave a statement in which he expressed his desire to end the Department of Justice’s legal actions against police departments found to be routinely violating civil rights. Instead, he said, his department would reorient toward revitalizing the War on Drugs.

This plan began to materialize this week when Sessions issued a brief memo outlining the Department of Justice’s new directives. The standout of these, as written, is that it “is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” Sessions’ memo concludes with an order for the department to review “all” of its current actions, specifically mentioning “existing or contemplated consent decrees.”

Put simply, Sessions wants to take action to put an end to current and pending agreements between the Department of Justice and police departments regarding civil rights reform.

This comes across as especially baffling, as one of the outlined goals included in Sessions’ memo is that “safety and protection of the public” is law enforcement’s top duty. But how can this lofty ambition be achieved if police departments continue to violate citizens’ civil rights?

Shortly before Donald Trump was sworn into office, an agreement between the Department of Justice and the Baltimore Police Department aimed at enacting crucial reform was set in motion. However, shortly after Sessions’ memo, federal lawyers petitioned to have a pending hearing on the agreement postponed.

In response to this motion, both Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner expressed their concern, with the former explaining that the delay “may have the effect of eroding the trust” being rebuilt between the police and the community.

Fortunately, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar rejected the request, noting that it would “unduly burden and inconvenience the Court, the other parties, and, most importantly, the public.”

Baltimore is far from the only city whose law enforcement agency was subject to federal litigation and reform under Lynch. A complete list can be viewed on the Department of Justice’s website; among them are the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Miami Police Department and the Chicago Police Department.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems quite intent on undermining the impressive work of his predecessor. Not only that, though – he seems to misunderstand the purpose of the Department of Justice and the concept of federalism in general.

This is seen in Sessions’ memo which makes the astonishingly flawed assertion that his department does not have the duty of overseeing local law enforcement.

Perhaps our new attorney general should take a look at his department’s publicly available mission statement which says that its role, in addition to enforcing federal laws, is to “provide federal leadership” as well as “to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

It should not come as a surprise, though, that Sessions is woefully uninformed of the Department of Justice’s purpose – despite opposing police department reforms, the attorney general has openly admitted to not reading federal reports highlighting the need for law enforcement changes.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

80 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Jaime J
Jaime J6 months ago

thank you

SEND
Will Rogers
Will Rogers7 months ago

The dark ages! I think the only politicians America should have are Native American injuns, or blacks! It's gets kind of difficult to trust European Americans when they keep repeating their mistakes. I know a white woman who was born in Zimbabwe...if she moved to the United States, would she be described as African American?

SEND
Carl R
Carl R7 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE7 months ago

Okay

SEND
Karen H
Karen H7 months ago

I'm still trying to figure out how Trump is making America great again.

SEND
Joan E
Joan E7 months ago

Because the public wants cops shooting innocent people and lying about it, even cops lying about the man who was dragged off the airplane by security people, which they weren't involved in, yet still claiming for no good reason that the man did something to provoke that mistreatment.

SEND
ERIKA S
ERIKA S7 months ago

noted

SEND
Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson7 months ago

Brian F -- Compared to Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Spicer and his whole unbelievably ignorant Mob in the White House---Obama is a Seraph dropped directly from Above, with the words "Perfect in every way" stamped on his forehead!

SEND
Brian F
Brian F7 months ago

I agree that this crook Jeff Sessions is a liar who has no intentions of supporting badly needed law enforcement reform. However, although Obama supported law enforcement reform, he showed tremendous cowardice in many areas. During the Occupy protest, Obama did nothing as the thug police criminalized, beat and cracked the heads open of innocent protesters. During the Dakota Access pipeline protest, again Obama did nothing as a women was blinded, and another had her arm blown off by heavily armed over militarized oil company thug police. Obama also criminalized whistleblowers, and passed a horrible 2011 law that criminalized any dissent or disagreements with the president. So while I agree that the horrible positions of this liar Jeff Sessions are extremely troubling, Obama was no hero, who stood up against the injustice of the police. Obama's AG's also were against marijuana legalization, and Eric Holder made $200,000 a year of tax payer money, didn't prosecute one banker, and got a job making 1 million dollars a year, as a reward for his corruption. So Obama and his former AG, Eric Holder, really aren't much better than this crook and liar, Jeff sessions.

SEND