Federal charges against the Miami Police Department this month marked the 11th time in two years that the U.S. has put a local law enforcement agency on notice that it must change its ways or face a federal lawsuit, says the New York Times. Cities from New Orleans and Seattle to Missoula, MT., and East Haven, CT., are grappling with similar cases.
Federal intervention is far more common and much broader in scope under the Obama administration. In the President’s first term, the Justice Department started 15 investigations into troubled law enforcement agencies, almost twice as many as in the last four years of the Bush administration. Missoula County says Justice has no authority to investigate its district attorney over the handling of sex assault cases. Some police chiefs complain that the Justice Department, in its eagerness to promote best practices in new areas, have investigated police departments that were not clearly in violation of constitutional standards.