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Boulder Editorial: Justice Department Undermines Police Reforms in Numerous Cities

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
Boulder Daily Camera

More than a dozen cities, including Ferguson, Mo., have spent arduous months hammering out consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department to institute much-needed police and judicial reforms aimed in large part at reducing enforcement disparities that unfairly target poor and minority communities. The cooperation of local police departments was key in reaching these agreements, which makes them partners in fixing what’s wrong.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions now proposes meddling with a cooperative formula that’s working. Last week, he ordered a review of Justice Department consent decrees and other interventions, threatening to reverse progress designed to halt the unequal application of justice around the country.

Sessions’ unfortunate decision could undermine a lot of hard work in the 25 cities whose police departments — including Ferguson’s — worked with the Obama administration’s Justice Department. In 14 cases, consent decrees were reached with federal judges serving as monitors.

These agreements are not anti-police; they are pro-Constitution. We suspect that Sessions is motivated in no small part by President Donald Trump’s drive to halt the questioning of police actions such as those in which officers are captured on video shooting or fatally restraining unarmed civilians. The White House has posted a pledge that this “will be a law and order administration,” committed to ending the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.”

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