By: Candice Bernd
While Monique Dixon, the deputy director of policy for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, is similarly concerned about the potential scaling back of federal investigations into police departments, she points out that the DOJ could have used the 1994 law more aggressively than it has even under President Obama. The division has only opened about 66 investigations since 1994, entering into consent decrees in about half of those cases. According to one study, the division only investigates 0.02 percent of the country’s nearly 18,000 state and local police agencies each year.
“The Department of Justice, while it has done some work, could and should do more in terms of monitoring and investigating the police-involved shootings, excessive use of force and biased policing that we’re seeing across the country,” Dixon says. “The question is whether or not the federal government will continue to play its very important role of being a check on state and local law enforcement agencies.”
In October, the Justice Department announced that it would begin collecting nationwide data on police shootings and use-of-force incidents early next year. Civil rights advocates like Dixon and Taylor worry that this initiative will be left to languish under a potential Sessions Justice Department. Likewise, Sessions could roll back many other DOJ initiatives aimed at reconciling relations between police and communities of color.
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