BATON ROUGE, La. — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said Friday the Justice Department will increase the training and other services it provides to local law enforcement seeking to address policing issues. , such as the use of excessive force, officer involvement in shootings and police bias.
The revamped program, called the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, “is designed to transform the operations of a law enforcement agency and its relationship with the community,” Garland told a conference at Baton Rouge organized by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. Frames.
“But this program is not an enforcement measure,” he added. “This is a voluntary opportunity for an agency that knows it needs to make change and wants to make change, to do just that.”
Mr. Garland unveiled the revised program after bipartisan negotiations over police overhaul legislation failed in Congress, leaving the White House to work on an executive order on the matter.
And as the administration tries to balance its promises to tackle police misconduct with backing law enforcement amid rising violent crime in some cities, the Justice Department has emerged as a figurehead. key.
The agency is investigating police departments in cities such as Minneapolis and Louisville, Ky. At the same time, it was among several voices pushing for the White House to incorporate more thought from police groups into the drafting of its executive order. The order has not yet been issued.
The initial version of the Collaborative Reform Initiative was introduced under the Obama administration. Under the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions scaled back some aspects of it. He said the program had become too broad and onerous, and he decided he would no longer audit police departments that participated in these Justice Department programs, instead focusing on helping police fight back. against violent crime.
The latest iteration of the program, developed over the past few months, includes three initiatives aimed at building “collaboration, trust and legitimacy” between law enforcement and their communities, Garland said.
One initiative is a center established in 2017 that provides targeted technical assistance on more than 60 topics, such as officer safety and well-being, gun violence reduction, and community engagement. Last year, the program worked with 171 law enforcement agencies to create specific action plans.
The second initiative is also a continuation of an existing program, which helps law enforcement deal with a high-profile event, such as the controversial killing of a civilian by a police officer. It offers tools such as after action reviews, data analytics, and recommendations for change.
The program “will be offered as a way for the Department of Justice to support your work. Do not add more,” Mr. Garland said.
The third initiative restores and revises a model that Mr. Sessions had scaled down. The program offers in-depth assessments of systemic issues that a police service may face, such as bias in policing or the systematic use of excessive force.
It was the “most intensive element” of the new model, Garland said, adding that the latest iteration addresses criticism that has been shared with the Justice Department.
Law enforcement agencies did not like that the Department of Justice focused on creating a comprehensive report at the end of an assessment rather than offering ongoing communication and advice. And they said many of the recommendations were often difficult to put into practice.
Now the program will push for improvements “with timely, ongoing and actionable advice,” Garland said, and provide technical assistance so police departments can “implement reforms as they are identified. “.