The Trump administration has expressed opposition to federal intervention in policing, and President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have indicated that ”[i]t is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies."Memorandum from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Heads of Department Components and United States Attorneys, “Supporting Federal, State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement,” March 31, 2017; and U.S. Department of Justice, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Keynote Remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Division Midyear Conference,” press release (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, April 11, 2017).
Under President Obama, DOJ had initiated 25 investigations of, and entered 19 reform agreements (including 14 signed consent decrees) with, police departments.Margaret Hartmann, “Sessions Moves to Roll Back Obama Era Police Reforms,” New York Magazine, April 4, 2017. Sessions announced a review of all existing consent decrees and backed away from agreements in the works with Baltimore and Chicago, although the Baltimore decree went forward under court order.Memorandum from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Heads of Department Components and United States Attorneys, “Supporting Federal, State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement,” March 31, 2017; and Pete Williams, ”AG Sessions Says DOJ to ‘Pull Back’ on Police Department Civil Rights Suits,” NBC, February 28, 2017. In September 2017, DOJ also announced that it would make significant changes to the Collaborative Reform Initiative, an Obama-era program established in response to police shootings and incidents of police bias.J. Brian Charles, “Justice Department Ends Era of Pushing Police Reform” (2017). Under the voluntary program, DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) division, a component within the DOJ dedicated to community policing, offered assistance to local police agencies seeking help to build community relations and address bias within their ranks.Chiraag Bains, “When Backing the Blue Backfires,” The Marshall Project, September 20, 2017.