Some Police Chiefs Oppose DOJ’s Oversight Cutback

Some police chiefs, even in areas that supported Donald Trump for president, support the Justice Department’s “collaborative reform initiative” that advises local police departments. The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents rank-and-file officers, helped trim it back.

When the Justice Department said it would significantly scale back its collaborative reform initiative to monitor local police departments and reorient it toward more hands-off “technical assistance,” the decision reflected the Trump administration’s approach to law enforcement: crack down on violent crime, don’t regulate the police departments that fight it. The changes have encountered some resistance from police chiefs in cities that participated, the New York Times reports. Those chiefs work not only in big-city Democratic strongholds, but also in places like Spokane, Wa., which has a Republican mayor and in a county that voted overwhelmingly for  Trump. Under Trump, the Justice Department has not entered into a single court-monitored consent decree with a troubled police department. It has also ordered reviews of existing consent decrees, which are a tougher, more punitive alternative to the collaborative reform initiative.

Some chiefs called the new direction out of step with a growing consensus that rebuilding community trust is essential to fighting crime, particularly after high-profile police shootings led to a national debate on policing. The Justice Department says some police departments complained that the program was too aggressive and produced wide-ranging reports that contained errors. The Fraternal Order of Police helped lay the foundation for the administration’s action, opposing what it calls federal meddling in the affairs of local police. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not named a director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which operates the collaborative reform program. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan asked COPS to review his department after an officer shot an unarmed man. Without a new leader, the office delayed his request. “Everything is on hold, and that’s not a good place to be in,” said Jordan, who is making his own community policing changes. “We’re kind of frustrated by the fact that we’re having trouble getting decisions.”