Attorneys General in Three States Move to Increase Police Accountability 

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Photo by Victoria Kalagina via Flickr

Attorneys general in Illinois, Colorado and California have sought court-ordered overhauls of local police departments, increasingly filling the role the federal government has played for decades of holding accountable police departments that are deemed to be behaving badly, reports the Jackson Progress-Argus.

Recognizing that the federal government can’t take on every case nationwide, their move into this area of police reform is in part filling a gap created by the Trump administration, which all but stopped opening pattern or practice investigations into local police departments.

Last week, an ambitious police reform bill failed to win support from Congress, after it got mired down in arguments over addressing qualified immunity for officers and establishing a national data base on police misconduct.

In Illinois, Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced an investigation into the Joliet Police Department in September after an in-custody death and its potential cover-up was documented by USA Today.

In California, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an agreement in August with the city of Bakersfield to overhaul its police department after an investigation initiated by the Justice Department in 2016.

In Colorado, attorney general Phil Weiser last week released the findings of an investigation that his office began last year after the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of Aurora police officers and paramedics. In Illinois and Colorado, state legislatures only recently gave the attorneys general the authority to investigate local police departments.

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