Jeff Sessions orders review of police reforms prompted by high-profile shootings – Jon Swaine and Lois Beckett Monday 3 April 2017 23.55 EDT


All reform agreements between justice department and local police forces – including Ferguson and Baltimore – to be reexamined, attorney general says

Jeff Sessions made clear during his confirmation hearings that he wanted to hand authority back to local police chiefs.
Jeff Sessions made clear during his confirmation hearings that he wanted to hand authority back to local police chiefs. Photograph: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

The US attorney general on Monday ordered a nationwide review of all reform agreements with local police departments, placing a key part of Barack Obama’s legacy on criminal justice in jeopardy.

Jeff Sessions signalled in a memo filed to a federal court that “consent decrees” such as those struck in recent years with troubled departments in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, could be scrapped or scaled down.

“It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies,” Sessions said in the memo.

Sessions said he had instructed senior officials to reexamine all formal agreements between the department of justice (DoJ) and police agencies – from training initiatives, to collaborative reform programs, to legal consent decrees – to ensure they fit his series of operating principles for his department.

These included: “The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe.”

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