Black Politicians Respond to DOJ Gutting of Community Policing Program

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Under Trump Administration, DOJ loosens grip on local police departments amidst national cries for systemic change to how policing is done

The Department of Justice recently announced significant changes to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance to “better align the program with the principles outlined by the Attorney General in support of local law enforcement and the original intent of the authorizing statute,” read the statement on the DOJ’s website.

“Changes to this program will fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability, while still delivering important tailored resources to local law enforcement to fight violent crime,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support.”

The changes are effective immediately and the Congressional Black Caucus is heated.

“This is yet another example of what the black community has to lose under this administration. In the midst of protests in St. Louis, Mo., in response to the acquittal of a cop who killed a 24-year-old African-American man, the Trump Justice Department is gutting an important federal program that is focused on restoring trust between communities and police departments and monitoring progress in this area,” said a joint CBC statement.

“This decision is wrong, reckless, insensitive, and immature. It also further divides police departments and communities – rich and poor, black and white.”

“The CBC is not surprised by this decision or any other decision by the Trump Justice Department that disproportionately leaves people of color less safe and more likely to be incarcerated. Today and every day the Trump Justice Department shows Americans that it is not committed to the Department’s most important responsibility: justice.”

Earlier this year, the Attorney General released a memorandum stating that all Department of Justice activities would be reviewed by Department of Justice leadership to ensure that they fully and effectively promote the principles outlined in the memo. Today’s announcement is the conclusion of that review for the Collaborative Reform Initiative. These changes will return control to the public safety personnel sworn to protect their communities and focus on providing real-time technical assistance to best address the identified needs of requesting agencies to reduce violent crime.

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide: www.cops.usdoj.gov.

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