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Official Blackmail | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Official Blackmail

There is hardly a week that goes by where you do not hear about another police department being placed under Department of Justice control. This once-rare practice has become almost commonplace with over 20 departments under some degree of Federal oversight. But why? Are there really that many departments so unable to manage their own affairs or are they being bullied into accepting DOJ sanctions?

Year-end statistics are not yet available but, as of late 2015, Cleveland became the 16th department to enter a DOJ decree since the Obama Administration began. This does not include those departments who were already operating under decrees with earlier administrations, some of which can last for a decade or more. To some, this indicates a DOJ more willing to hold departments accountable; to many insiders, it points to a shift in DOJ mindset which causes police to be looked at as the enemy – similar to a career criminal who police are watching, waiting for a chance to swoop in and take them down.

In a December 2014 statement, DOJ officials appeared to support this change in attitude: “In the past fiscal year, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has opened over 20 investigations into police departments, more than twice as many investigations than were opened in the previous 5 years.”

Dept of JusticeWhy the drastic increase? DOJ oversight, generally in the form of consent decrees requiring departments to change training, policies, procedures and even reporting standards were originally the result of investigations alleging violations of one of more of the following federal acts: Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Omnibus Crime Control & Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

These violations included racial profiling, longstanding policies of denying defendants human treatment or Constitutional rights or abuse due to race, religion or membership in one of the other protected classes. More importantly, it required proof that the department was aware of such actions and either condoned it or failed to correct it. However, under then-Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ expanded its authority by including “unconscious bias” or actions that were not intentional but based upon “subconscious discriminatory practices”. Nice way around intent. Also a nice way to argue almost any action is motivated by bias.

So, why do departments agree to such oversight? For the same reason some defendants, even those who are later proven not guilty, enter a guilty plea – sometimes David can’t fight Goliath. If a department enters a decree, they are not required to admit guilt. If they do not accept this “settlement,” they face years of Federal probes and investigations – something even large departments cannot afford to defend against. Basically, the consent decree has become akin to official blackmail. Not much different than an officer telling a suspect “I think you did this robbery, but I can’t prove it. So plead to these other charges and enter probation or I’ll follow you every minute of the day until I find something else.”

A common rally cry among criminal justice reformers is “Who will police the police?” Maybe they should be asking “Who will oversee the overseers?”

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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1 thought on “Official Blackmail

  1. I also am concerned with the DOJ interjecting themselves into local law enforcement issues. Ferguson is just one prime example. Eric Holder came to Ferguson with a entourage of lawyers and agents.

    He left abruptly without any disclosure. Fell silent for weeks. Likely he knew that witnesses including the other individual who was with the suspect at the time that the Ferguson officer stopped the two on the roadway. Still Holder said nothing that would diffuse the situation on the streets of Ferguson and after the young officer was found not guilty, it was announced that the Feds would not prosecute on civil rights charges. The DOJ knew what had happened all along and that statements given by witnesses were not true. Eric Holder’s inaction could be seen as tinder for the fires that that burned in Ferguson.

    There is a broader issue with the action of DOJ in cities across the country. Have they transgressed on states rights in the governing their states? Police departments are established by city charter and cities are incorporated by individual states and there is also a state licensing and training board that issues qualified law enforcement officers a licensing certificate. Municipal police officers get their authority from a Chapter in the Penal Code and detailed rules in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

    The actions of the DOJ can be seen as a violation of the 10th Amendment. As questionable DOJ behavior has increased, so too has states’ responsibility to reconcile state and national interests as they apply to the Federal powers to direct their police and usurp the rights of states to govern the municipalities incorporated by the state. Federal Officers do not have police powers in states whose penal code specifies who peace officers are. Check your penal code and tell the Feds to stick the badge in …….. their pocket.

    Cities need to get smart fast before the next step in the Feds encroachment on their rights and accompanying expansion of Federalism. I am yet to hear one state come to the aid of a city under attack by the DOJ. Could your city financially defend themselves if the Feds came knocking?

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