On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced 19 actions the department will be taking when monitoring police departments, pointing out that despite the existing tools the Department of Justice is already using, more is required.
“The department has found that – while consent decrees and monitorships are important tools to increase transparency and accountability – the department can and should do more to improve their efficiency and efficacy,” Garland revealed in a statement. “The Associate Attorney General has recommended – and I have accepted – a set of 19 actions that the department will take to address those concerns.”
The new series of actions comes from a list of recommendations by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who conducted a review of the use of monitors by speaking with state and local law enforcement.
“Consent decrees have proven to be vital tools in upholding the rule of law and promoting transformational change in the state and local governmental entities where they are used,” Gupta stated. “The department must do everything it can to guarantee that they remain so by working to ensure that the monitors who help implement these decrees do so efficiently, consistently and with meaningful input and participation from the communities they serve.”
The Department of Justice noted that all 19 actions of the monitoring will minimize cost to jurisdictions while avoiding conflicts of interests, will be accountable to the court, will assess consistently across all jurisdictions, will hold “sustained, meaningful” engagement with the community and will be “structured to efficiently move jurisdictions into compliance.”
To ensure the department meets such requirements, all monitor agreements will have budget caps, only one monitoring team per consent decree at a time, prioritize stakeholder input, include term limits, have stakeholders create a set of effective practices for monitors, and require termination hearings after a time period of no more than five years.
Within the next 90 days, Gupta and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division are due to meet with a group of stakeholders to start the monitorship training guide and effective practices.
Consent decrees, which were commonly used in the Obama administration and less frequently during the Trump administration, have in the past required police departments to make changes related to use of force and body cameras, Fox News reported.
On Monday, Garland insisted the announcement was showing the department’s “transparent and collaborative way we are approaching our work,” telling the International Association of Chiefs of Police that the department “cannot fulfill its public safety mission without you and without close collaboration with you.”