New DOJ Boss Says He Hasn't Read DOJ Investigations Into Abusive Policing, Calls Them 'Anecdotal'

from the DOJ-v.-American-Public dept

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just sent another message about the future of US law enforcement: there will be no policing of the police during the Trump Years. In his first on-the-record briefing, Sessions flat-out stated the DOJ’s many civil rights investigations of local police departments mean nothing.

[Sessions] said he had not read the Obama Justice Department’s scathing reports on unconstitutional policing practices in Ferguson, Mo., or in Chicago, reasoning that he found the summaries “pretty anecdotal.”

Nothing is more useless than deliberately ignored facts. Summing up multi-year investigations as “anecdotal” goes far beyond willful ignorance into dangerously-smug territory. At least when FBI director James Comey said he hadn’t bothered reading the CIA Torture Report, he had the excuse that the info included did not directly reference his area of control.

Sessions doesn’t have this excuse. But his focus isn’t on what’s wrong with America’s law enforcement. He’s only interested in what’s wrong with Americans. He wants tougher sentencing and tougher laws. He’s looking at moving forward with federal prosecutions targeting legal marijuana sales. He wants to ease restrictions on asset forfeiture. He has shown no concern about the policed, only for the police.

Sessions also called police officers cowards during his briefing.

Sessions said police officers in Chicago were arresting people less frequently, which he speculated may be out of fear their interactions could be recorded and spread on the internet.

“The officer feared for his observation.” That’s the jist of this statement by Sessions. He may think this is a perfectly acceptable reason for Chicago PD officers to not do the job they’re paid to do, but only a coward would shy away from doing their job because it might be witnessed by others. What a bunch of shit.

But back to the “anecdotal” shrug off of the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s work. Here’s some of the stuff Sessions has the audacity to call “anecdotal.”

From the DOJ investigation of the Ferguson PD:

We spent, collectively, approximately 100 person-days onsite in Ferguson. We participated in ride-alongs with on-duty officers, reviewed over 35,000 pages of police records as well as thousands of emails and other electronic materials provided by the police department. Enlisting the assistance of statistical experts, we analyzed FPD’s data on stops, searches, citations, and arrests, as well as data collected by the municipal court. We observed four separate sessions of Ferguson Municipal Court, interviewing dozens of people charged with local offenses, and we reviewed third-party studies regarding municipal court practices in Ferguson and St. Louis County more broadly. As in all of our investigations, we sought to engage the local community, conducting hundreds of in-person and telephone interviews of individuals who reside in Ferguson or who have had interactions with the police department. We contacted ten neighborhood associations and met with each group that responded to us, as well as several other community groups and advocacy organizations. Throughout the investigation, we relied on two police chiefs who accompanied us to Ferguson and who themselves interviewed City and police officials, spoke with community members, and reviewed FPD policies and incident reports.

Also “anecdotal:” (from the Chicago investigation)

First, we reviewed thousands of pages of documents provided to us by CPD, IPRA, and the City, including policies, procedures, training plans, Department orders and memos, internal and external reports, and more. We also obtained access to the City’s entire misconduct complaint database and data from all reports filled out following officers’ use of force. From there, we reviewed a randomized, representative sample of force reports and investigative files for incidents that occurred between January 2011 and April 2016, as well as additional incident reports and investigations. Overall, we reviewed over 170 officer-involved shooting investigations, and documents related to over 425 incidents of less-lethal force.

We also spent extensive time in Chicago—over 300 person-days—meeting with community members and City officials, and interviewing current and former CPD officers and IPRA investigators. In addition to speaking with the Superintendent and other CPD leadership, we met with the command staff of several specialized units, divisions, and departments. We toured CPD’s training facilities and observed training programs. We also visited each of Chicago’s 22 police districts, where we addressed roll call, spoke with command staff and officers, and conducted over 60 ride-alongs with officers. We met several times with Chicago’s officer union, Lodge No. 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the sergeants’, lieutenants’, and captains’ unions. All told, we heard from over 340 individual CPD members, and 23 members of IPRA’s staff.

Our findings were also significantly informed by our conversations with members of the Chicago community. We met with over ninety community organizations, including non-profits, advocacy and legal organizations, and faith-based groups focused on a wide range of issues. We participated in several community forums in different neighborhoods throughout Chicago where we heard directly from the family members of individuals who were killed by CPD officers and others who shared their insights and experiences. We also met with several local researchers, academics, and lawyers who have studied CPD extensively for decades. Most importantly, however, we heard directly from individuals who live and work throughout the City about their interactions with CPD officers. Overall, we talked to approximately a thousand community members. We received nearly 600 phone calls, emails, and letters from individuals who were eager to provide their experiences and insights.

The DOJ Civil Rights Division won’t be given this long of an investigative leash under Sessions. The Trump Administration is already planning to cut this division’s budget, and the man at the top of the organizational chart is just going to dismiss the findings without even reading them. Sessions says he’s “not sure” if he’ll pursue a consent agreement with the Chicago PD, which strongly suggests he won’t. He seems more concerned about the criminal activity in the city and fails to see how unconstitutional and abusive policing may be making it worse.

Police accountability is off the table for the next four years minimum. Whoever inherits this mess will have to make up a lot of lost ground. Under this administration, law enforcement officers will be untouchable, as least at the federal level. The groundwork has begun on Police State, USA.

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Comments on “New DOJ Boss Says He Hasn't Read DOJ Investigations Into Abusive Policing, Calls Them 'Anecdotal'”

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41 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Considering the Bible

Dear Mr. Sessions, consider these words and whether you would label them "fake news".

Isaiah 5:20-23

20
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

21
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

22
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,

23
who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.

Proverbs 24:23-25

23 These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:

24
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.

25
But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.

There is plenty more Mr. Sessions.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wait! Wait! I know this one!

Indictments from a document of great renown much more recent than the Holy Bible…

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I was told Obama was going to declare martial law in order to remain in office, I thought that was a bit silly and obviously wrong – but there are many out there that still believe he is running ISIS from his evil volcanic lair in Kenya and is coming for your guns after building FEMA camps to house all the Christians he plans on persecuting because the witches told him to.

Were these people hysterical? idk -but I thought hysterical was running around the room screaming with flailing arms and wobbly feet – something like that anyway.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Maybe just cynical rather than hysterical. Maybe it’s just that nothing would surprise me at this point. I might gasp at the news. I might double check to make sure it is real news. But I would not be shocked. Not one single bit.

I thought all the talk about the NSA spying was paranoid hysterical nonsense — BEFORE Snowden. Then we find out it was actually much worse.

And US torture programs. Secret warrants, arrests, courts, trials, evidence, convictions, prisons, etc.

Is it really hysterical? Or are you saying these things should just be accepted as normal.

Let’s just assume, for a moment, that our country ends up getting a dictator. Just consider for a moment. What will your reaction be? You didn’t think it could happen? How could this happen? Why aren’t you asking right now how could so much of what has already happened happen? Do you think other countries in history that ended up with dictators (even if the title is “king”) thought it could happen to them? The reality is that the future could turn out to be bad. And we collectively could just let it happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are assuming, without evidence, that there will be a next election.

Three operative principals here:

  1. "I don’t care who does the electin’ as long as I get to do the nominatin’"
  2. Voter ID laws. If you don’t have that big red "R" stamped on your voter ID, well, you’ve been purged from the rolls. Can’t have dead people and illegal aliens voting, don’t cha know.
  3. The President received slightly less than three million votes than his opponent did, yet still was elected.

So QED: Doesn’t matter even if there are elections.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The President received slightly less than three million votes than his opponent did, yet still was elected.

That’s because we have an electoral college system which serves to make it more difficult for candidates to completely ignore less populated states in favor of a few heavily populated states.

The losing candidate essentially did just that, and was punished for it with an electoral college loss. System working as intended. Next time pick a candidate that gives a damn about all the states, or at least is competent at pretending they do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are assuming, without evidence, that there will be a next election.

Oh please, spare us the theatrics. When the US was embroiled in the Civil War, what was left of the Union still held elections in 1864 as was required. When the US was embroiled in World War II, it still held elections in 1942. There will be elections in 2016. Most likely fair elections, and the country will abide by the results.

The only question is will the democrats field a good, charismatic candidate with a strong appeal to independents, who is capable of beating Trump? Or will they go against the widely popular potential candidate to field someone uncharismatic and hated. Again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

My imagination is fine. I’m simply not so deluded as to think some of the more extreme scenarios I could imagine would actually happen. Trump’s an incompetent, corrupt asshole, and that’s it. He’s not the anti-christ, or Hitler reincarnated and possessed by the devil. His time in office will be shitty, but it’ll end at a normal time assuming he doesn’t manage to get impeached.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well yeah.

Man, this new government really puts up a tough competition for the "most stupid" award.

I don’t think the Trump administration has plumbed the depths of depravity and idiocy they are capable of quite yet. After all, the Republican Congress and Republican Senate haven’t started impeachment, so they are willing to put up with a few more minor missteps.

That One Guy (profile) says:

It's a time saving measure really

Don’t you see, Sessions is just saving time and money. If he was never going to care about what was in the reports, then reading them would be just as constructive as ‘reading’ a blank stack of paper.

He’s only got so much time in the day to work with, and any time spent reading reports he’ll just completely ignore unless they confirm his pre-decided notions is time not spent doing more productive things, like talking about how much the poor, besieged police need even more legal cover from the nefarious(and probably traitorous) public.

Far from criticizing his world-class blinders that only allow him to see what he wants to see, we should be applauding him for his masterful time management skills in only focusing on things that he wants to do and ignoring anything that doesn’t fall into that category.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

This is not going to end well.

By reaffirming law enforcement as a caste above the law (and in doing so, affirming that impoverished and marginalized groups will be beneath the law) Sessions is creating a situation in which peaceful protest will become impossible, and more and more people will find themselves with nothing left to lose.

Maybe within the next year or so we’ll reach the threshold where police are regarded not as a necessity of civilization but as a tool of oppression, and the United States will lose its identity as a nation of laws.

Mick says:

Thank God

These reports were about as factual as the report that blamed wall st greed as the reason for the recession, while completely ignoring the effects of community redevelopment act (which was then used as justification for the huge and super expensive banking surveillance bill known as Dodd-Frank).. It’s not the behavior of the criminals, the racism of the cops is the reason for their problems. This was a partisan hack job from jumpstreet, and everyone knew it. There are dead cops because of this report, it was fodder for BLM and it belongs in the circular file.

Personanongrata says:

Police State, USA is a Bi-Partisan Effort by the Repubican/Democrat Wings of the War Party

The groundwork has begun on Police State, USA.

The groundwork for Police State, USA was set into place long before the reprehensible Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was appointed as US Attorney General (or born for that matter).

Police State, USA may have begun with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in July of 1908 which over the succeeding 108 years morphed into the US governments secret police force now known as the FBI while under the tyrannical stewardship of J Edgar Hoover.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Bureau_of_Investigation

The creation of the US governments very own gestapo (ie FBI) opened the flood gates for further expansion of secret unaccountable organizations (eg NSA, CIA, DIA, NRO 16 in all) that can unconstitutionally surveil every last American 24/7/365 (the police state also stores the intercepted data in tax payer funded data repositories for potential future exploitation). Even the US post office is in on Police State, USA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Intelligence_Community

https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/what-government-does-americans-data

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/us/postal-service-confirms-photographing-all-us-mail.html

This does not even touch on facial recognition software, cell tower spoofers, surveillance cams/drones, GPS tracking, license plate readers, etc. Local law enforcement collects and shares this data with federal/state organizations and private contractors at fusion centers.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/04/why-fusion-centers-matter-faq

https://www.thenation.com/article/how-private-contractors-have-created-shadow-nsa/

Unfortunately Americans have been born into Police State, USA for generations and thus have become both inoculated and well conditioned to the daily and life long contradiction of living under a secret unaccountable government that is capable of surveilling/destroying every aspect of their very existence and the illusion of liberty.

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