Attorney General Jeff Sessions has put a halt to federal involvement, and several police departments are not happy about it.
According to the article “Rollback of Federal Police Reform Program Riles Advocates”, the DOJ is switching gears – rather than focus on police-community relations, they’re focusing on gangs and violent crimes.
Previously, cities could request that the DOJ come in, investigate the police department, and recommend changes. Those in favor of this program are claiming that without it, the community will suffer.
Kami Chavis, a law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, is quoted as saying, "It could potentially be sending a message to some departments that, ’Hey, we’re the federal government, we’re going to look the other way, so do what you will.’"
Davis doesn’t understand one simple fact: Police departments do not answer to the federal government. They are not held accountable by the federal government. They are held accountable by the people in their city – and it seems to be in this case that the people want the problems fixed, they just don’t want to do it themselves.
Sessions is cited in the article as saying that he will continue to hold officers accountable for wrongdoing, but he doesn’t there is a need for on-going investigations because it hurts officer morale.
This can already be seen in Chicago (read our previous article here), where consent decrees – a promise to do away with corruption – are only making the city worse by causing officers to second-guess themselves and not do their jobs because of the copious amounts of paperwork now required by the decree. Research has also shown that the COPS program – designed to improve police-community relations, has actually caused more harm than good.
We won’t act totally ignorant here. There are cases that require a higher authority to step in. But in most cases, problems can be handled at the department and/or city level. The bottom line is, federal involvement is the last thing we want. Even if they claim to be there to “help,” even if it was optional and the city elected to have them there, it’s never a good idea. Once the federal government is involved, the officers no longer answer to you, the citizen. They no longer serve you. The serve the feds. And if you have a problem with your officers, how easy to you think it will be to file a complaint with the DOJ versus your police chief or mayor?
Keep your local police independent of federal control.