Federal watchdogs who monitor consent decrees imposed on police agencies will be given new limits on the timing and extent of their work. “Change takes time, but a consent decree cannot last forever,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday in announcing the changes, the Washington Post reported. In a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Garland acknowledged that many police departments were frustrated by the red tape and length of time to which they were subjected to Department of Justice oversight. “We hear you, and we take those concerns seriously,” Garland said.
The new measures were taken following a four-month Justice Department review of federal efforts to rein in unconstitutional and abusive policing. Since he was appointed by President Joe Biden this year, Garland has launched sweeping “pattern or practice” investigations of police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix. Monitoring teams — usually composed of former police officials, lawyers, academics and police-reform consultants — have typically billed local taxpayers between $1 million and $2 million per year. Some consultants have served on federal oversight teams in more than one city at the same time, drawing criticism over conflicts of interest. The changes were welcomed in law enforcement circles. “This will help restore credibility into this process,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.