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Inspector General Faults DOJ Work on Policing

The Justice Department’s inspector general says the erosion of public confidence in law enforcement after the high-profile deaths of Blacks at the hands of police officers is one of “the most pressing challenges” facing federal law enforcement. Inspector General Michael Horowitz also chided the Trump administration for cutting back on police oversight. He wrote that strengthening public confidence in law enforcement and protecting civil liberties would “require appropriate and swift action” from the Justice Department, reports HuffPost. Horowitz’ report, which mentions two Blacks killed by police this year as well as a Black man slain by a white man while jogging in Georgia, calls for “urgent” action to improve community trust in law enforcement.

“One of the most pressing challenges facing the Department of Justice … in the wake of nationwide protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among other incidents, is how it can most effectively work to strengthen public confidence in law enforcement and protect individuals’ civil liberties,” the report says. It says that DOJ in the Trump administration has significantly curtailed its police oversight work, “has not fully effectuated the tools” at its disposal and, “in some cases, has cut back” on their use. Horowitz notes that he issued a similar report in 2015 after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The report discusses Trump’s commission on law enforcement, which a federal judge ruled violated federal law by excluding civil rights advocates and anyone besides law enforcement officials. A prosecutor on a commission working group quit, saying the panel was “intent on providing cover for a predetermined agenda that ignores the lessons of the past” and would “only widen the divisions in our nation.” The judge’s finding, Horowitz said, “may undermine public confidence in the commission’s work.”