Experts and police reporters are puzzled over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ opposition to reform agreements the Obama administration reached with a handful of controversial police departments, with one source saying Sessions’ assertions have “no basis in fact,” says Media Matters for America. Obama reached consent decrees with law enforcement agencies in about two dozen cities, including Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark, New Orleans, Seattle and Ferguson, Mo. Sessions has ordered a Justice Department review of the agreements, saying they deflate police morale. Vanita Gupta, who oversaw investigations that led to the decrees under Obama, says the process has been used judiciously, with just 15 agreements currently active, and that they work to reduce crime.
Reporters in those cities say they have observed positive results. “It doesn’t deter policing or result in additional harm to officers,” said Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times. He says both crime and police injuries have declined. In Cleveland, which instituted a consent decree in 2015, Plain Dealer reporter Eric Heisig said, “I don’t think it has affected morale…The city, the monitor, the judge have said they do not want to see changes happen as a result of Trump.” In New Orleans, under a consent decree since 2012, Emily Lane of the Times-Picayune says a citizen survey found that satisfaction with police doubled from 2009 to 2016, from 33 percent to 64 percent.