The Justice Department is leading a broad review of police tactics, including the kind of deadly force that prompted recent protests in Missouri and New York City, a federal law enforcement official tells USA Today. The review is being conducted as the department weighs creating a national commission to provide new direction on such controversial issues. In addition to deadly force, the review is expected to examine law enforcement’s increasing encounters with the mentally ill, the application of emerging technologies such as body cameras, and police agencies’ expanding role in homeland security efforts since 9/11, said the unidentified official. The review is to be completed next year while authorities consider establishing a special law enforcement commission similar to a panel created by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s to deal with problems then associated with rising crime.
Rather than focusing on violent crime, which is down in much of the U.S., police are now grappling with persistent incidents involving use of force and their responses to an array of public safety issues, from drug overdoses to their dealings with the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed. The call for a broader federal policy review, while not directly tied to any specific incident, grew out of a meeting involving law enforcement advocacy groups and Justice officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, the official said. “Nobody has looked at the profession in any holistic way in more than 50 years,” the official said. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the nation’s largest group of local law enforcement officials, has long advocated for the revival of the Johnson administration commission.