Attorney General's Memo Indicates Trump's DOJ Is Only Interested In The Blue Side Of The Justice Equation

from the lol-'civil-rights'-GET-A-JOB-HIPPIES dept

Here comes the rollback. As President Trump made clear with his pick for Attorney General, the days of police reform are over. The administration is only willing to put its weight behind efforts that give cops more power, weapons, and funding. Everything else -- including several years-worth of consent agreements with dysfunctional police departments -- is unimportant.

The first wave of Trump's planned United Police State was a series of divisive directives seeking to bolster support for law enforcement by informing them the president had their back and anyone who didn't was simply wrong.

A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence. The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division -- which has entered into several consent decrees with police departments engaged in unconstitutional policing -- is seeing its budget cut. The "law and order" focus of the Trump/Sessions DOJ is taking shape.

Via Reason's CJ Ciaramella comes the next step in the Making America Great Again:Blue Lives Matter program -- the DOJ's courtroom announcement [PDF] that it will be rewriting (or at least reconsidering) its recent consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department. Accompanying the DOJ's request for a delay in proceedings is a memo [PDF] from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which spells out the Department's new priorities.

The Department will use its resources to effectively promote a peaceful and lawful society, where the civil rights of all persons are valued and protected. To that end, I expect that all Department components will adhere to and support principles that will advance those two goals, including, but not limited to the following:

The safety and protection of the public is the paramount concern and duty of law enforcement officials.

Law enforcement officers perform uniquely dangerous tasks, and the Department should help promote officer safety, officer morale, and public respect for their work.

In the context of the DOJ's courtroom request for a continuance to examine the consent decree in light of Sessions' new memo, this likely means the DOJ will be looking to serve law enforcement first and the general public second. Note the "uniquely dangerous" phrase, which suggests the DOJ will be cutting officers more slack on force deployment since they're apparently in near-constant "fear for their safety."

Local law enforcement must protect and respect the civil rights of all members of the public.

This is a nice touch, but it's the only thing in there that nods to citizens' rights, rather than simply granting a powerful subset of government employees even more power. That the Baltimore PD consent decree appears to be on the verge of being rolled back indicates -- along with the following bullet point -- Sessions is pulling the DOJ out of the civil rights business completely.

Local control and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.

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 the "bad apple" argument, reduced to a bullet point in Sessions' "Bootlicking Best Practices" memo.

The collection and analysis of timely, reliable statistics on crime and criminals are essential for effective law enforcement strategies.

This suggests we'll only be seeing the FBI's roundup of crime stats from now on. Years after announcing it would do so, the DOJ finally got around to tracking the number of people killed by on-duty police officers. The voluntary system that never worked was replaced with one with a bit more coercion. This appears to be headed for an early retirement.

Recruitment and training of law enforcement officers should focus on making law enforcement a rewarding career, and attracting and retaining well-qualified personnel.

I don't have any argument with this point, other than the fact that, in this context, it means law enforcement pay increases will be uncoupled from increased accountability or transparency. The DOJ is getting out of the oversight business. Presumably any members of its civil rights division that survive culling will be expected to don Go Blue! cheerleading outfits and assist the other federal agencies (DHS, CBP, ICE, etc.) with the compilation of their "dangerous foreigners" lists.

Collaboration between federal and local law enforcement is important, and jurisdictions whose law enforcement agencies accept funding from the Department are expected to adhere to the Department's grant conditions as well as to all federal laws.

It's all wrapped up with an implicit threat of funding cuts and grant denials should local agencies police themselves too harshly or refuse to play along with the feds' increased immigration enforcement efforts.

The Department of Justice is being retooled to protect a single side of the justice equation. We may have a new president, but the old "Dept. of Just Us" jokes will return from their brief hibernation.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Apr 2017 @ 6:00pm

    Beatings will continue until morale improves

    The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.

    If they were actually interested in addressing the causes of the 'anti-police atmosphere' then this might be a good idea, but given the rest of the comments I can't help but doubt this.

    Rather than less transparency they should be pushing for more.

    Rather than less accountability they should be pushing for more.

    Rather than dismissing the rot that's infested the police and shrugging it aside as nothing more than 'The misdeeds of individual bad actors' they should be focusing on removing and punishing those 'individual bad actors', and reforming the systems that allow them to stay in place and continue to make the entire police force look bad.

    If they're really interested in '... promot[ing] officer safety, officer morale, and public respect for their work.' that starts with the police, not the public, and if the police aren't interested then it's up to the government to step in and make them change in order to achieve that, which makes it all the more disappointing that one of the points very clearly states that they have no interest in doing so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 8 Apr 2017 @ 4:24am

      Re: Beatings will continue until morale improves

      Actually, promoting public respect for police work does start with the public.

      It starts with looking at the public, to understand why the public lacks that respect, and what can be done to address that reason.

      To the extent that officer morale is because of public attitudes towards the police, that also starts with looking at the public, to understand why those attitudes exist.

      Et cetera.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 6:44am

        Re: Re: Beatings will continue until morale improves

        I see what you did there...

        Sorry, but it is the police that must be looked at. The public is already looked at, spied on, abused, and indiscriminately charged with crimes and penalties.

        We need to stop allowing government to use the police as a paramilitary where they have snipers, armored personnel carriers, EXPLOSIVES, and minimal to ZERO training.

        We also need to remove the "default" respect the police, or any member of government for that matter, attitude, that is constantly foisted upon us by "authority figures" because it only reinforces the attitude that "obedience" is the only thing that matters and that your liberty and individuality is hostile or even ILLEGAL when an officer decides it should be!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: Beatings will continue until morale improves

        "understand why the public lacks that respect, "

        Yes, but they do not care what the public thinks - obviously.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 3:25am

          Re: Re: Re: Beatings will continue until morale improves

          Authorities don't ask for respect, they demand it.
          And if the public won't acknowledge the authority itself, they'll most definitely acknowledge the boot stamping on their faces.
          At the end of the day we still live in a physical world where fear and pain exist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Beatings will continue until morale improves

            "Authorities don't ask for respect, they demand it."

            Yes they do that on a regular basis, and it demonstrates their lack of understanding what the word means. What they really want is devotion, reverence and adulation.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 7 Apr 2017 @ 9:30pm

    Brown eyes for a reason....

    "It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies."

    Sure, ok, let's say you're right then Sessions. So, you'll be cutting all funding from the Federal government to local law-enforcement agencies, stopping the distribution of military-grade arms and equipment to state law enforcement agencies, and discontinuing all shared asset forfeiture programs that benefit state law enforcement agencies with kickbacks, since all these programs have federally mandated rules and regulations local law enforcement agencies must follow to get their cash and toy allotments.

    No? Then it kinda sounds like you might full of shit there sparky!

    "Collaboration between federal and local law enforcement is important, and jurisdictions whose law enforcement agencies accept funding from the Department are expected to adhere to the Department's grant conditions as well as to all federal laws."

    Yep, you're full of shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      discordian_eris (profile), 7 Apr 2017 @ 10:17pm

      Re: Brown eyes for a reason....

      He's completely full of it on the collaboration bit, yes. Enforcing federal law is the job of the feds, not local cops. Funny how the states rights arguments go out the window as soon its biggest proponents get into power.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 3:27am

        Re: Re: Brown eyes for a reason....

        C'mon people are we forgetting that all politicians LOVE Big Government just so long as it's THEIR Big Government?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 7 Apr 2017 @ 10:02pm

    I honestly don't see what's wrong with this memo.

    Are you sure you picked the right memo to complain about, Tim? Taking it at face value, it looks to be reasonable.

    The safety and protection of the public SHOULD be the duty and concern of law enforcement, police SHOULD respect people's rights, and police SHOULD be accountable.

    I suppose the motion below it does dance around the issue of how bad the Baltimore department is (it is bad, right? I'm used to police being monsters in the US by default), but it does recognize that the BPD needs some serious reform.


    Maybe rather than being picky and seeing hidden messages in the wording, why don't we embrace these recommendations and demand that they be carried out to the letter?
    Especially that thing about the safety of the public being law enforcement's primary concern, as opposed to, say, protecting themselves and stealing money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Apr 2017 @ 10:32pm

      Re: I honestly don't see what's wrong with this memo.

      If you could take him at face value then yes, it might sound like a good memo, but as pointed out in this and previous articles the words about serving the public are empty at best; the priorities Sessions has demonstrated are first and foremost towards the police, with the public taking a very distant second(or worse) place after.

      As for Baltimore, here's an excerpt from a DOJ Civil Rights Investigation report(a division that's having it's budget reduced under Sessions, to give you an idea as to how 'committed' he actually is to protecting the civil rights of the public):

      'Officers frequently resort to physical force when a subject does not immediately respond to verbal commands, even where the subject poses no imminent threat to the officer or others...

      BPD uses unreasonable force against people who present little or no threat to officers or others. Specifically, BPD uses excessive force against (1) individuals who are already restrained and under officers’ control and (2) individuals who are fleeing from officers and are not suspected of serious criminal offenses...''

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Daydream, 8 Apr 2017 @ 12:34am

        Re: Re: I honestly don't see what's wrong with this memo.

        Specifically, BPD uses excessive force against (1) individuals who are already restrained and under officers’ control and (2) individuals who are fleeing from officers and are not suspected of serious criminal offenses...''

        Does anyone else get the feeling that (1) explains (2)?

        --

        In any case, thank you for enlightening me regarding Jeff Session's credibility.

        I wonder if it's possible to force him to pursue the recommendations he's put out in his memo? I'd like to see him practice what he's preaching right now.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 9:11am

      Re: Trump bashing

      the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

      the current American Police State was built by a long bipartisan line of Congressmen, Presidents, and Supreme Court Justices... over many decades.

      Trump and Sessions are wrong on this issue, but certainly fit in well with the mainstream "government" view of policing.

      If one is truly concerned about the oppressive state of American policing and justice system -- one needs to get past the childish fixation with TRUMP as the chief villain... the cause is elsewhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re: Trump bashing

        Yeah, just more trump bashing, nothing to see here - move along .... oh wait,

        "Trump and Sessions are wrong on this issue"

        Wow - the rare admission of wrong. Impressive.



        "one needs to get past the childish fixation with TRUMP as the chief villain... the cause is elsewhere.

        It is trump and henchmen doing the damage and yet you suggest looking the other way, because the cause is elsewhere - where might that be exactly? You know ... other than the person responsible for doing it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re: Trump bashing

        You're weirdly defensive. Trump is not the cause of all the problems, obviously.

        That doesn't mean Trump/Sessions shouldn't be criticized if their ideas are a continuation of the problem, which is exactly what the article you're whining about is doing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 8 Apr 2017 @ 2:32pm

        Re: the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

        As he himself said, “I’m President, and you’re not”.

        It’s his job to do something about it, while he has the power. That’s why he took the job, isn’t it? The buck currently stops with him.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bob, 9 Apr 2017 @ 12:26am

          Re: Re: the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

          Yep he takes the money then passes the responsibility on to others.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

          " That’s why he took the job, isn’t it? "

          This is a very good question, one that Donald himself is struggling with I imagine.

          I doubt he agrees as to where the buck stops, I don't think he is capable admitting fault. Everything that goes wrong is obviously the fault of some one else.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 11:14am

          Re: Re: the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

          It’s his job to do something about it, while he has the power. That’s why he took the job, isn’t it?

          Thats why he took the job, but his actual job is to implement the policy decided by congress, rather than decide policy for congress to endorse.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 7:18am

          Re: Re: the main point here, as always, is to bash Trump specifically.

          Not every issue and decision is the presidents responsibility. It is also not the federal governments responsibility.

          There are local issues and there are federal issues, just because the federal government shouldn't get involved in certain issues doesn't mean they are not important, but some things should be handled locally vs. centrally.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 8 Apr 2017 @ 4:03am

    Really?

    "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it."

    Huh. Not work to change it, not correct problems that cause it - just jackboots. That's how I read that sentence. At some point, the police - and the government - will be reminded there are more of us than of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 6:55am

    "A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence. The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration."

    Translation: The Trump Administration is a "Police State" administration. We will consider anyone that disagrees with our "Policies on Policing" to be "criminals" and they will be removed from our streets.


    "President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public."

    Translation: Trump will serve the interests OVER the citizens and will support their mission of tyranny over the public.

    Remember citizens... the police were NEVER here to protect shit, they are only here to enforce the law. If you think you are being protected then you are a worthless citizen that is part of the problem. When it comes down to it... you the citizens, are the ones that has to die when the issue of peril comes up! Citizens are not allowed to use force to preserve their life, liberty, or property when government says they can't, despite the clear indication of the 2nd Amendment!

    "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it."

    Translation: The Trump administration is prepared to rule over the unruly citizens, tired of tyrannical police behavior, like a despot. Your job as citizens is only to "obey". You are not allowed to think or be critical of the police, even if they are killing your children or loved one!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 7:50am

    "The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration"

    Were do you get that this doesn't also mean that the POLICE MUST ALSO FOLLOW THE LAW?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      discordian_eris (profile), 8 Apr 2017 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      Since the courts have applied "good faith" and "qualified immunity" standards to them. You, as a cop, no longer even need to pretend to know anything about the law. In fact it seems that the more ignorant the cops, the more trusting of them the courts are. Since the courts have shown again and again that they are subservient to the LEO community it isn't going to get better.

      What we are seeing is the Stanford prison experiment played out in real life. The only viable option left for many police departments is to simply wipe the slate clean. If you have been inducted into this kind of cult, it is nigh unto impossible to change. And it is, effectively, 20,000+ cults in the US grouped into a large, nationwide, meta-cult.

      http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      History, namely every single 'law and order' politician out there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 12:29am

      Re:

      Well Trump and his cabinet have already shown they can't be trusted. What makes you think a memo from one of trump's underlings is really going to make him behave?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dreddsnik, 9 Apr 2017 @ 6:13pm

      Re:

      Where do you get that he does ?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 10:41am

    More law and order politics, it was bullshit in the past and it is bullshit today. Just another excuse to ignore the poor whose problems are caused by their big business buddies, gotta improve that bottom line. It's much easier to toss them in private prisons where you can make a few bucks off their slave labor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 1:41pm

      Re: Laura Norder & Jobsen Growthe

      Those two cousins appear all over the world when far right wing governments get into power to benefit the uber rich & powerful.
      Rich men such as Donald Trump love to support the police as it truly is the 'thin blue line' keeping the masses from taking away their riches when they overstep the mark.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re: Laura Norder & Jobsen Growthe

        Yea, I noticed that the rich and powerful suffered a whole lot under Obama.

        Or are you saying Obama was a Right Wing administration?

        Neither the right nor the left needs sheep like you around. You are bankrupt as all get out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 9 Apr 2017 @ 9:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Laura Norder & Jobsen Growthe

          He kind of was, actually - just not far-right.

          There is no left wing in national (or even, for the most part, state-level) office in the USA, by historical standards of what left vs. right means. It's all just different degrees of right-wing.

          Bernie Sanders' campaign positions were actually mildly left-wing - but not nearly as far as the positions of many people I know, including myself. (As assessed by the standards of The Political Compass, at any rate.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Laura Norder & Jobsen Growthe

          Not sure what Obama has to do with the discussion.

          "Rich men such as Donald Trump " ... see the such as?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 11 Apr 2017 @ 5:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Laura Norder & Jobsen Growthe

          Obama ran a neocon administration. He actually kept a lot of the old Dubya staffers on.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 8 Apr 2017 @ 2:10pm

    SSDD

    The legal system in the US exists to protect the 1% and steal from everyone else. Any attempts at fairness or representation will be addressed by installing people like Ajit Pai. Regulation is for the little people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2017 @ 2:34pm

    fire them all

    Fire all the police and hire a new police force that doesn't have the thug union behind it. Renegotiate terms with the new group that don't include the anything goes clause. New terms that allow police to be fired as any normal employee would for bad behavior, no paid vacations and years of negotiations. Just fired. AND when necessary, prosecuted, and jailed. Police should not have unconditional job security which is part of the problem now. They know they can do anything without repurcussions. So as it stands they know they work for their union and not for the city/state/people. Also, the legislature needs to roll back this idea that cops don't need to know the laws they are enforcing. That is just dumb bullshit. Who doesn't need to know their job to do their job? Who doesn't need some sort of technical or knowledge requirement? NO ONE. It is unreasonable that the police should not also meet the technical and knowledge requirements that go with the job. i.e., the law. Oh, and how not to shoot at first sight of a kid or a dog or a woman with a cigarette.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 9:19am

      Re: fire them all

      No, the police are just thugs, nothing will change, if you just change them.

      Leadership must change and that requires your fellow sheep to vote properly which is impossible. It's nice to see that once again, everyone blames the wrong group.

      When your own government is corrupt, then so are you!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:37am

    Does the federal government control the Baltimore Police department? Should they?

    The Baltimore mayor hires the police chief there. The people of Baltimore hire the mayor. What business does the federal government have in getting involved with how the Baltimore police department works?

    Are the people of Baltimore too stupid to understand how things work? Do they vote to put people in charge that work against them?

    If they are violating civil rights, there are actions that can be taken, other than that, the federal government should stick to worrying about federal issues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP (profile), 10 Apr 2017 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      The people of Baltimore understand exactly how things work. It's you that do not. While it's true that the Mayor of Baltimore has the power to hire/fire the commissioner and the citizens of the city get to foot the bill for the department, the city has zero control over in department policy and oversight. Most of the parameters for police operations are a matter of state law and are controlled by the Maryland State General Assembly under the Public Local Laws of Baltimore City not the Baltimore City Charter and Codes. Because of that, the police commissioner is limited in who he can fire below the upper echelons of his command and what policy he can enact.

      Reforms to the police are not decided alone by the representatives of the city but by all of the state representatives including districts that are over a hundred miles away and are subject to a possible veto by the governor not to mention the political in fighting and general BS that defines the state capital.

      One of the many fights going on right now is a push to return control of the department back to the city.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 12:37pm

        Re: Re:

        So the problem is that control is up to the state? And people want to take it up many notches to the federal level?

        I agree, the city should control the department.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2017 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          When the states do not enforce their own state laws, then it is up to "the feds" to ensure certain rights are not violated by the state(s).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 10 Apr 2017 @ 12:02pm

    "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it."

    The reason there is an anti-police attitude is that it is the natural consequence of having an anti-criminal attitude and seeing an entire class of criminals getting away with their crimes. That will naturally make people focus more on that class of criminal, and when that class of criminal is commonly known as 'corrupt police officer', it will naturally look a lot like an anti-police bias to an outside observer.

    If the existing oversight authorities the police have would just do their jobs instead of rubber stamping almost every police abuse of power, there would be no anti-police attitude, because there would be no de facto mafia to provoke it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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