Biden's DoJ vs. the Police

While American heads are still spinning over Afghanistan, despotic COVID mandates, and gluttonous spending bills, the Civil Rights Division (CRD) under Merrick Garland is quietly advancing a Biden campaign promise to put major police departments back under the thumb of the federal government.  This jihad against police is occurring against a backdrop of DoJ paralysis towards burning cities, Antifa violence, the inhumane treatment of January 6 protesters, election fraud, and city and state attorneys who coddle felons.

Muscling the CRD initiative is newly-minted Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, a ne’er-do-well Democrat with a Harvard chip on her shoulder who’s made no bones judging people by their melanin levels.  Despite her race-based predispositions, she gained her position by Republican duplicity.  Susan Collins crossed the aisle to end Senate debate over Clarke’s nomination and gave the Democrats the slim majority they needed to drag her across the finish line.

Clarke’s jihad against American policing advances through pattern and practice investigations, onerous legal assaults that throw the weight of her Special Litigation Section at police departments that find themselves in the crosshairs.  First authorized by Bill Clinton in 1994, these federal probes waned through the Bush years and gathered momentum during the Obama administration under Eric Holder and Tom Perez.

High-profile police confrontations and shootings are often the tickets to a CRD probe.  Local activist groups can also prompt CRD investigations.  The division itself can also solicit business by sending their lawyers shopping for complainants in minority communities or using online portals to solicit plaintiffs who believe themselves ill-treated.

Once Clarke blesses an investigation, CRD lawyers swarm, enfilading a department with records requests and slowly peeling the layers off internal policies and protocols in search of irregularities.  Scattered citizen complaints, poor recordkeeping, lax internal investigations, inadequate training, racially disparate motor vehicle stops, and use of force incidents, are low-hanging fruit for Clarke to trigger a costly and lengthy government lawsuit.

Disputing a legal onslaught by the CRD requires more political courage and money than most municipalities can muster in defense of their cops.  As the only alternative to prolonged litigation, besieged city administrators settle for a consent decree.  In so doing, they hand the reins of the police department over to Clarke and her minions.

In all, 73 investigations have resulted in forty agreements in the past 25 years, the last initiated by Clarke against the Phoenix police.  Eighteen of those occurred during the Obama administration and under Perez’s leadership of the CRD.  

Trump’s DoJ was saddled with Obama-era court-ordered agreements, although Jeff Sessions, facing headwinds from an unfriendly judiciary, had mixed success in stopping further inquiries.  Eleven decrees crossed party lines, against police departments in Puerto Rico, Albuquerque, Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Miami, New Orleans, Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey, and Portland, Oregon. Giddy for a transformation in policing, Joe Biden will expect Garland to pile on to those numbers.

Once federal police oversight comes to town, local taxpayers are forced to buy dime-store solutions at exorbitant prices.  In soliciting for the position of court-appointed decree monitor, the CRD has been known to play favorites with high-priced and established law firms who hoist cocktails and tee off with federal magistrates.  Applicants submit weighty proposals to the court projecting five-year budgets that turn out to be halftime estimates.   Although remaining aloof from day-to-day street operations, monitors ply their trade sitting in judgment of difficult and often split-second decisions by officers and make their case against them using statistical spreadsheets.

Staffing a monitoring team has spawned a lucrative cottage industry encompassing a familiar pool of pensioned police chiefs and prosecutors, criminal justice professors with ivied vitae, and social scientists of all stripes eager to assume the responsibilities of an associate monitor or subject matter expert earning several hundred dollars an hour.  Over the course of a decree, price tags can run to the tens of millions.  There are twice-yearly progress reports to the federal court with a schema of metadata stuffed into colorful graphs and charts offering a two-dimensional portrayal of police performance.  The finish line always appears a way off and numerous court appeals for extension of the decree have become a customary aspect of their lifespans.

Consent decrees can have serious side effects that can upset the good order of a community.  Satisfying the countless monitor requests for documentation necessitates the creation of units dedicated to those tasks and a reassignment of dozens of officers that drains from patrol and investigations.  Morale and productivity in the ranks are also early casualties and may result in discretionary slowdowns known as depolicing.  Effective patrol and crimefighting efforts suffer as officers shy from street encounters and motor vehicle stops over concerns that confrontation or complaints might bring scrutiny to promotions and careers.

In 2009, a decade-long and costly consent decree was lifted from the New Jersey State Police.  All in all, the Garden State invested 100 million dollars to pay for monitors, upgraded technology, and dedicated police salaries.  Offering no technical advice or counsel, the Clinton DoJ left the troopers to their own devices in solving vehicle stop data collection and risk management issues.  Monitors would simply descend upon them in droves every half year, cherry-picking precincts for spot audits and demanding statistical proofs of their progress.  Realizing that problems and solutions were best found in one’s own backyard, NJSP joined forces with the Rutgers University Police Institute to devise a low-cost alternative to assist police departments in distress.

In 2012, the Rutgers Excellence in Policing (EIP) initiative proposed technical assistance and expertise drawn from within the policing profession to avoid federal litigation.  In a pilot study, police commanders who had successfully shepherded their own departments through federal oversight or had created nationally recognized best practices and protocols regarding motor vehicle stops, community policing, use of force, internal investigations, and training were enlisted to counsel several urban and suburban police departments in need of those improvements.  They came armed with simple numbers-crunching technology and management accountability solutions easily powered by off-the-shelf software programs.  By replacing the CRD methodology of endlessly mining records for errors with remedies that actually work, departmental reforms were achieved at a fraction of the time and expense of a federal decree.  The rank and file suffered no issues of productivity and communities were well-served.

Although the EIP project was funded by a sizable grant from Eric Holder’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the outcome didn’t fit the required narrative, the report was never issued, and was subsequently shelved by the Obama DoJ.  Equate that fate to the Democrat’s discounting of science and mathematics in the COVID era, where the maxim of actually determining “what works and what doesn’t,” is bullied by empirically flawed judgments advancing Democrat political goals.

On September 11, 2021, Merrick Garland announced to the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police that DoJ would immediately be implementing new guidelines for consent decrees and monitor teams.  Much of the issued guidance is a reuse, but one ground rule foreshadows a more ominous political motive by requiring monitors to “assess compliance consistently across jurisdictions.”

The Biden administration has a particular ax to grind against law enforcement for standing athwart unlawful progressive causes.  Although aware that there are more economical and less intrusive remedies to assist troubled departments, such as the EIP initiative, they remain defiant toward alternatives but eager for the opportunity to impose one set of woke rules that will bring all of American policing to heel.

Image: Public Domain

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