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Attorney General orders review of police reform activities

[JURIST] US Attorney General Jeff Sessions [official profile] issued a memorandum [text, PDF] on Monday, ordering the Department of Justice [DOJ, official website] to undertake a comprehensive review of all police reform activities issued during the Obama administration. During the Obama administration and in light of societal issues with police brutality, the DOJ required many state and local law enforcement agencies to reform their police conduct policies. The stated goal of such orders was to prevent misuse of force and unwarranted incidents of brutality. Sessions's memo orders the DOJ to review these orders and assist the agencies in promoting, "a peaceful and lawful society, where the civil rights of all persons are protected." Agencies are to adhere to several principles listed to promote these goals, including public safety, officer safety, officer morale, and collaboration among the federal, state, local agencies. Sessions said the principle backing the memo is that "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 principle reflects Sessions's disagreement with the orders imposed on agencies under the Obama administration. The memo concludes with a statement to ensure that any Department activity resulting from the order does not, "delay or impede any pending criminal or national security investigation."

This memo follows Sessions's March statement [JURIST report] supporting local law enforcement agencies against government lawsuits. The lawsuits were arising from police conduct similar to that criticized under the Obama administration during this past year. In January Baltimore reached an agreement with the DOJ on police reform after a finding [JURIST reports] in August by the DOJ that the police force had violated First and Fourth Amendment rights. In November Cleveland submitted [JURIST report] a revised use-of-force policy to a federal judge after a DOJ investigation found [JURIST report] the department was using excessive force. In May Louisiana's governor signed into law [JURIST report] an amended hate crimes bill including police, EMS and firefighters in the protected class after instances where police were terrorized and attacked in response to numerous police shootings.

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