Un-Justice Department: Jeff Sessions wants to undo police reforms made over the past eight years

The Justice Department is going to make things worse for targets of cop violence

By Matthew Rozsa
April 4, 2017 4:42PM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a long history of opposing civil rights, is now ordering a review of agreements implemented by President Barack Obama to address issues of police officers abusing their power.

Sessions has instructed his two main deputies to review reform agreements reached under the Obama administration between the Justice Department's civil rights division and police forces facing allegations of abuse, according to The Washington Post. Under Sessions, the Justice Department is arguing that it is important to make sure those agreements don't undermine officer safety and morale.


In a list of "principles" enunciated by Sessions in the document, the attorney general declares that "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." This is among the list of principles that Sessions orders be "fully and effectively" promoted in a review of "all department activities — including collaborative investigations and prosecutions, grant making, technical assistance and training, compliance reviews, existing or contemplated consent decrees, and task force participation."

Sessions' memo was released shortly before the Justice Department's civil rights lawyers requested that a federal judge postpone a hearing on an Obama-era consent decree struck with the Baltimore Police Department until no earlier than the end of June.

Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, told The Post that "this is terrifying. This raises the question of whether, under the current attorney general, the Department of Justice is going to walk away from its obligation to ensure that law enforcement across the country is following the Constitution."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Baltimore Police Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Police Brutality Policing