Jeff Sessions is Putting an End to the War on Cops
In a memo released to the public on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed top Justice Department staffers to review ongoing agency programs from top to bottom, including any agreements the DOJ has made with local police departments that could come into conflict with the Trump administration’s commitment to reducing crime and supporting law enforcement officers.
Sessions outlined a series of criteria that all DOJ programs should be held to, including principles like, “Law enforcement officers perform uniquely dangerous tasks, and the Department should help promote officer safety, officer morale, and public respect for their work.”
Another: “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.”
And one more: “The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe.”
“The Attorney General and the new leadership in the Department are actively developing strategies to support the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that seek to prevent crime and protect the public,” DOJ officials said. “The Department is working to ensure that those initiatives effectively dovetail with robust enforcement of federal laws designed to preserve and protect civil rights.”
Combined with the DOJ’s request to delay a hearing about an impending consent decree with the city of Baltimore, the memo has civil rights activists worried that Sessions is going to undo a major element of the Barack Obama legacy.
Under Obama, the DOJ developed consent decrees with 14 municipal police departments in an attempt to address racial bias and the excessive use of force. Reformers heralded the agreements as a step forward in the wake of problematic cases of police force in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York City.
But critics – Sessions among them – say the Obama administration went too far in both rhetoric and action, demonizing police officers and making it more dangerous for them to carry out their duties.
To be clear, the Trump administration has taken no steps to unwind existing agreements, and it may not even be legally possible for them to do so.
And for further clarity, no one is saying that police departments should be able to do whatever they want to whomever they want because “police are the good guys.”
But there must be a balance. We must remember that cops – especially those who police the most dangerous streets in America – do not have a lot of room for error. We can’t paralyze them to the point where criminals gain the upper hand. We can’t make their jobs so perilous that only those with no other career options will take them. We have to take an approach that is based on facts, not politics.
If Sessions can tackle police reform with those principles at the forefront, then there’s no reason anyone other than a radical leftist should complain.