On March 31, 2017, Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions released a memo stating that the Justice Department would “review” department investigations and settlements with local police departments over “pattern or practice” of abuse of citizens’ rights. The memo was vaguely worded, and did not include any of the rhetoric by candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, or comments by Trump and Sessions following the election clearly indicating that they were opposed to federal intervention into local police departments. Read Sessions’ memo here: SessionsMarch2017Memo

Sam Walker told the Los Angeles Times that his 20-year review of the DOJ “pattern or practice” program concluded that across the country police chiefs had moved toward greater controls over police use of force, an emphasis on de-escalation, and toward greater transparency and review of officer conduct. Those reforms were all mandated by DOJ consent decrees, but other police departments have adopted them voluntarily. Walker also told the Times that the president and the attorney general can set a different tone regarding policing, but police chiefs have the power to nullify anti-accountability rhetoric and set their own standards of high accountability. Read the Times story hereSessionLATimes

Read Walker’s report on the DOJ “pattern or practice program here:

Walker explained to the Baltimore Sun that the DOJ program has been effective in obtaining reforms because “a judicially enforced consent decree adds real force” to any agreement to undertake reforms in a police department. Read the Baltimore Sun article here: SessionsBaltSun

Walker also told Mother Jones that his report on the DOJ program found that it has “been successful in achieving long-term reforms” in police departments. Read the Mother Jones story here: SessionsMotherJones