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Garland rescinds Trump-era order limiting consent decrees in police investigations
By: Mica Soellner, Breaking News Reporter, Washington Examiner, April 16, 2021:
Attorney General Merrick Garland nixed the Trump administration’s order that placed restrictions on consent decrees used by federal prosecutors to investigate police departments over accusations of misconduct.
The decision, announced on Friday in a four-page memo to Justice Department staffers, comes amid renewed high national tensions surrounding several high-profile cases of black people who died in police custody.
“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said.
The Justice Department can use consent degrees with local jurisdictions to avoid litigation on policing, education, voting rights, and other issues, according to a report by the Washington Post.
The last decree was issued to the Baltimore City Police Department in 2017 regarding the 2015 arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Gray, a black man, was handcuffed and shackled in the back of a police van. He was unrestrained by a seat belt, broke his neck during the ride, and died a week later.
During the Obama administration, the Justice Department entered into consent decrees 15 times with local law enforcement agencies. In addition to Baltimore, the department entered into consent decrees in Cleveland, New Orleans, and Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by an officer in 2014, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought to curtail the use of consent decrees under the Trump administration, which did not enter a single decree in its four years.
Sessions, who issued the order limiting consent decrees shortly before being fired by former President Donald Trump in 2018, argued that the decrees harm morale in police departments and the federal government shouldn’t be managing state and loc
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