In a recent interview just prior to leaving office, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, talked about her time leading the Department of Justice. Ms. Lynch holds the highest law enforcement job in America and with that responsibility, has made it a priority to hold police departments accused of abuse accountable for their actions. The most recent police department to be sanctioned by the DoJ is the Chicago PD. The DoJ released a report stating that the Chicago PD with its 12,000 plus officers, routinely violated the constitutional rights of Chicago’s citizens by using excessive force, allowing racial discrimination, and the shooting of citizens who posed no immediate threats. The DoJ also stated the Baltimore PD had similar types of abuse and constitutional rights violations as the Chicago PD.
In the interview with the Associated Press, Ms. Lynch explained why it was necessary for the DoJ to file charges against certain police departments by saying, “That is a role that the federal government absolutely has to play. Frankly, it is our role to defend the constitutional rights of the citizens of our cities in this great country.” The changes that are recommended to the charged police departments are overseen by a judge and the affected departments are required to overhaul their current practices and procedures. While heading the DoJ, Ms. Lynch said, “One of my highest priorities as attorney general has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive and transparent.”
Only time will tell if the policies implemented by Ms. Lynch at the Department of Justice will stick because president-elect Donald Trump has nominated Jefferson Sessions to be the new head of the DoJ once he takes office on January 20, 2017. Sessions has made several racially charged statements over his long career in politics. During his confirmation hearing in-front of Congress, Sessions said forcing police departments to accept consent decrees “are not necessarily a bad thing,” but he felt that it reduces morale and undermines police officers in doing there jobs.