01:53 - Source: CNN
Sessions orders review of police reforms

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"As you may recall, we opposed your nomination to serve as Attorney General," Richmond said

Sessions ordered the Justice Department to undertake a review of all police reform

CNN —  

The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus is blasting Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he ordered the Justice Department to review police reform activities, including consent decrees.

“As you may recall, we opposed your nomination to serve as attorney general because, over more than three decades of public service, you have developed a questionable record on issues of justice, equality and civil rights,” Rep. Cedric Richmond wrote in a letter Wednesday to Sessions. “It is clear by your recent actions that our opposition was well founded, as you have demonstrated a complete disregard for your responsibility to protect the rights of all Americans.”

The order comes at a critical time for several major cities, including Baltimore and Chicago, which revealed unconstitutional patterns of racial discrimination and excessive force in policing in length reports.

In certain cases during the Obama administration, the Justice Department negotiated formal reform agreements with the cities, usually in the form of a “consent decree,” which are then overseen by a federal court.

Sessions’ two-page memo instructs the department to immediately review all “collaborative investigations and prosecutions, grant making, technical assistance and training, compliance reviews, existing or contemplated consent decrees, and task force participation,” in order to ensure that they fully promote the Trump administration’s goals of working with law enforcement “to ensure public safety.”

But Richmond said Sessions’ time could be spent reviewing the tense relationship between law enforcement and minority communities.

“If you are reviewing all agency activities, we implore you to give all due consideration in review of officer-involved shootings, deaths in custody, and reports of police brutality or excessive force,” the Louisiana Democrat wrote. “No American should be afraid to call the police for fear of becoming victimized by the very people sent to protect them.”

Caucus members previously launched what they admitted was a “long-shot” effort to block the then-Alabama senator’s nomination to lead the Department of Justice during his confirmation hearings.

“He has been hostile to every community that DOJ is supposed to protect from discrimination,” Indiana Rep. Andre Carson said in January.