MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It appears the Trump administration's Department of Justice is backtracking on efforts to insure adequate oversight and accountability of the Memphis Police Department.
The move should be disturbing to all Memphians.
An agreement had been in place calling for the Justice Department to monitor use of force and whether officers are receiving training on bias and racial profiling. There was also language regarding more transparency of police procedures, but none of those items were contained in a new memorandum enacted earlier this month. Instead, the amended agreement contains vague language about MPD making relevant information available when appropriate and as needed.
In other words, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking a more hands off approach to local policing at a time when many communities, including Memphis, are asking for greater oversight.
Mayor Jim Strickland is stressing the point that, despite the new agreement, nothing has changed at MPD and the department remains committed to following proper procedures and being accountable to the public.
There is no reason to believe otherwise, but it's obvious to me that this Department of Justice is no longer interested in holding local police accountable on highly sensitive law enforcement issues.
Instead, it is more interested in locking certain people up and throwing away the key.
Simply put, the evidence shows that this administration's Department of Justice is taking us backward not forward.