Wyden and Merkley reintroduce bill to hold police departments accountable for discriminatory practices


WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – The senses. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Said Thursday they joined colleagues in reintroducing legislation that would strengthen the ability of the US Department of Justice and state governments to investigate police services with practice of unconstitutional and discriminatory behavior.

Their press release continues in full, below:

During the Obama administration, the DOJ used its authority to investigate and hold police departments with unconstitutional policing histories by concluding consent decrees – court-reviewed regulations requiring that the departments police adopt specific reforms. Consent decrees are powerful monitoring tools that allow the justice ministry to tackle police abuse and force local police departments to adopt meaningful reforms.

This practice has completely stopped in the Trump administration. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions dramatically curtailed the Department of Justice’s ability to deploy these powerful tools by issuing guidelines limiting the use of consent decrees. This focus weakened a division that already had a limited capacity to investigate models or practices due to financial constraints. While Attorney General Garland recently announced the rescission of this memorandum, the Trump administration’s attack on consent decrees demonstrates the need for Congress to provide additional authority and resources to DOJ to conduct these investigations and to give state governments the funding and tools to act if the DOJ does not.

“Consent decrees are essential tools to ensure that local law enforcement respects the constitution and does not discriminate against anyone in their communities,” Wyden said. “The failure of Donald Trump’s Justice Department to use this proven tool clearly demonstrates the need for legislation that recognizes that these executive orders require consistent oversight to maintain the accountability of police departments with a history of maintaining the law. unconstitutional order. “

“We live in a country where police services often view some people in a community as clients they are protecting, and others as a threat. This is unacceptable, ”said Merkley. “Every American, regardless of their skin color or zip code, deserves to be treated with respect by law enforcement and to be able to live free from the fear of police brutality. If we are to turn this vision into reality, we must ensure that police services that engage in a pattern of discriminatory behavior are held accountable. “

the Strengthening Oversight to End Discrimination in Police Services Act, 2021 would have:

  • Empower state attorneys general to pursue investigations and model or practice cases, providing essential support if the DOJ does not act, and create a grants program to help states continue investigations and decrees of consent.
  • Triple funding the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and devote $ 100 million per year for the next 10 years to the division to continue these investigations of police services with a history of unconstitutional and discriminatory police practices.
  • Encourage the Department of Justice to go beyond traditional law enforcement mechanisms when developing remedies with police services, and consider reform mechanisms such as support for mental health, civilian oversight and community-based restorative justice programs.
  • Prevent conflicts of interest in investigating habits and practices by prohibiting certain officials from being designated to bring federal actions for violations of habits and practices if there was a conflict of interest.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the Law on Strengthening Oversight to End Discrimination in Police Services presented by US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is co-sponsored by US Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) , Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The legislation is approved by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc .; Progress of demand; National Urban League; National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officials (NOBLE); National action network; and the Public Rights Project.

The text of the invoice is here.

A one-page summary of the bill is here.

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