Justice Plans to Link Grants, Police Use-of-Force Policies

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The Justice Department will make a new effort to withhold federal grant money from police departments that don’t meet or try to meet certification standards on the use of force. The Washington Post calls it ” an ambitious idea with so far few specifics to be unveiled days before a national election in which police conduct has been hotly debated. A five-page draft document broadly defines how the Trump administration intends to apply an executive order signed by the president on safe policing. The draft document says the effort aims to “improve policies and procedures — ensuring transparent, safe, and accountable delivery of services to our communities.”

Jon Adler, former director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, said many of the recommendations were included in a 2016 document from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Adler said the guidance pushes police to intervene when they see fellow officers using excessive force, but that it falls short by failing to require training that would be needed to reach its stated goals. He said the new guidelines fail to address law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses or other disorders, a key focus of those advocating police reform. The draft DOJ standards are broad and in many cases simply require police departments to have a policy on complex issues such as choke holds, no-knock warrants and firing warning shots. The document says police departments should end using force “when it is objectively reasonable that a subject is fully in law enforcement’s control.” It’s unclear how far the Trump administration may get on the initiative. The president faces a tough race for reelection, and the first deadline mentioned in the draft is Jan. 31.

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