The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
PHOENIX, AZ- Several months back, Law Enforcement Today warned that the federal government appears to be engaged in a scheme to take over local law enforcement agencies. This week, they announced their intention to investigate the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for alleged “excessive use of force,” among other allegations.
This is nothing new of course, as after violent thug Michael Brown was dispatched to the nether regions by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, Obama’s Department of Justice engaged in a “pattern or practice” investigation of that department.
To nobody’s surprise, the DOJ determined a “pattern or practice of unlawful conduct within the Ferguson Police Department that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and federal statutory law.”
Again under Obama, after the Freddy Gray case in Baltimore, for which all officers charged in that case were either exonerated or had their charges dismissed, the Department of Justice launched a civil rights case against the Baltimore Police Department.
They determined the agency allegedly “engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.”
Since Merrick Garland took over the Department of Justice as Attorney General around six months ago, he has launched civil rights investigations against the Louisville Police Department in Kentucky subsequent to the Breonna Taylor incident.
The same month, April 2021, he launched a similar pattern or practice investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department subsequent to the death of George Floyd due to a combination drug overdose, heart condition and positional asphyxia.
Now Phoenix. According to The Tennessee Star, the Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation, also known as a “pattern or practice” investigation into the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix PD, according to the leftist Garland and his even more leftist Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke last week.
According to a DOJ press release, the Special Litigation Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will conduct the investigation, looking into force used by Phoenix police officers, including the use of deadly physical force.
They said they would investigate whether the department “engages in retaliatory activity against people for conduct protected by the First Amendment, engages in discriminatory policing or unlawfully seizes or disposes of property belonging to homeless individuals.
The DOJ will also look at the department’s practices for responding to calls for people with disabilities. The review will also include policies, training, supervision, use of force investigations and accountability systems, including complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition and discipline.
Federal investigators notified the city’s mayor, Kate Gallego, department chief Jeri Williams as well as other city officials. The DOJ said it would reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with the department.
“When we conduct pattern or practice investigations to determine whether the Constitution or federal law has been violated, our aim is to promote transparency and accountability,” Garland said in the press release.
“This increases public trust, which in turn increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals.”
Garland of course is lying. According to KOAT-7 in Albuquerque, they found nearly all cities that reached settlement agreements or consent decrees with the DOJ saw double-digit increases in violent crime—including murders, rapes and robberies.
The outlet reported that the city of Albuquerque had reached a court settlement with the DOJ in 2014 after an investigation found that the “Albuquerque Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force including the use of unreasonable deadly force,” DOJ attorneys announced in a 2014 news conference (another one under Obama).
KOAT looked at cities that reached consent decrees since 2010 and who had reported their crime statistics to the FBI. The station compared each city’s violent crime rate two years before the city entered the consent decree and two years after.
Every city with a population higher than 50,000 people experienced a double-digit increase in violent crime. For example, Albuquerque saw a 36 percent increase in crime; Seattle 27 percent; LA, 61 percent; Cleveland, 13 percent; Phoenix, 10 percent; and New Orleans, 20 percent.
Only two cities—East Haven, CT., and Warren, OH., both with populations under 50,000 saw a decrease in violent crime.
In the case of Albuquerque that wasn’t the only result. Officers left the department in droves. One, Officer Michael Fisher left the department after he got into a pursuit with a man who had shot another man in the head.
Fisher chased down the suspect, and when he attempted to put him in handcuffs, a crowd gathered around, verbally attacking the police for the “crime” of taking an armed suspect who had shot a man off the street. That was enough for Fisher, who realized the public had turned against them.
Fisher put the blame squarely on the Department of Justice.
“Lots of people left early,” he said.
He noted that two years after the consent decree came down, the department reached a 20-year low in officers, 833. That was well below the recommended manpower of 1,100 officers.
Fisher said officers were leaving due to the DOJ-mandated policies, which made it difficult for police to be proactive. Basic handcuffing procedures, he said, were now considered a “use of force” and required officers to fill out additional paperwork and triggered an automatic internal investigation.
“We were basically put on a short leash,” Fisher said. “We used to be about catching bad guys. We used to be proactive. Now we are being more reactive. We go to call to call every day, and if you have seen someone suspicious, you just drive by.”
The then-president of the police union in the city, Shaun Willoughby was not surprised by the crime spike.
“Wherever the DOJ goes, crime goes up,” he said.
Willoughby noted that officers were also reassigned to newly created units mandated by the consent decree.
“We have more cops investigating cops on this department than we have investigating any criminal element,” he said.
Consent decrees are also expensive for police agencies to maintain. In Albuquerque for example, an independent monitor was paid $4 million a year to make sure it meets the agreement; in New Orleans it costs $10 million a year.
How about another example of the abject failure of consent decrees, where the only thing that is accomplished is putting handcuffs (figuratively and literally) on the police…Baltimore.
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ProPublica reports that in 2016, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division entered into a consent decree with Baltimore, after a pattern and practice investigation alleged the police, department engaged in “racial discrimination” and “excessive force.”
So what happened? In 2017, Baltimore recorded 342 murders—its highest per-capita rate ever, which exceeded Chicago’s and was exponentially higher than any other city of more than a half-million or more residents. In fact, Baltimore saw more killings IN TOTAL than New York City, which is 14 times as populous as Baltimore.
The crime explosion in Baltimore has had other effects, including on the city’s economy. People who used to visit the Inner Harbor started staying away; attendance for baseball games for the city’s iconic Camden Yards decreased significantly. So bad did it get that people stopped waiting at red lights at night for fear of getting carjacked. All of this came about after the city entered into a consent decree with the DOJ.
As Law Enforcement Today noted in our previous report, the crime explosion in Baltimore continues, and officers are leaving the department in droves. The city currently is short about 800 officers. Criminals roam the streets with impunity…why? Officers won’t be proactive at risk of facing federal charges.
In fact last October, a federal judge overseeing the consent decree expressed frustration over the lack of results in the city some three and one-half years into it.
Pattern and practice investigations came into being as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibited state and local governments and by extension their police departments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by police officers that deprives individuals of their Constitutional rights, or federal law. Since that bill was signed into law, 73 police departments have been investigated under the statute.
During a press conference in response to the investigation, Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher said the police department and city would cooperate with the investigation and accommodate any requests made by Garland’s rogue DOJ.
Zuercher claims that the investigation will “provide one more avenue toward making Phoenix a safer, stronger place for all residents, workers, visitors and our police department.”
Well, if history serves as a guide, the only ones who will be safer will be the criminals.
The DOJ’s action is somewhat even more suspicious in its timing, given the influx of illegals crossing the Biden administration’s open borders. Putting the department under a microscope at a time when the last thing you want is a timid police agency smacks of political timing. This is especially true given Phoenix’s proximity to the southern border.
Chief Williams noted that the DOJ will see numerous reforms the department has already implemented, including officers wearing body-worn cameras.
Zuercher said he has confidence in members of the department.
“I know that good officers do not want to work in a system that allows bad practices, and our community expects and deserves a high-quality police department with officers committed to justice, fairness and respect,” he said.
Of course, the social justice warriors are never satisfied, and it doesn’t appear the DOJ sticking their nose into the Phoenix Police Department will satiate them. A group called Poder in Action, which has been pushing for greater police accountability is wary of the DOJ investigation.
They said that such investigations:
“…have a long history of being extremely costly to taxpayers [true] while increasing funding to police departments, recycling ineffective police reforms, and failing to end the killing of black, brown, indigenous, poor, disabled, unsheltered and LGBTQ+ people.”
That all may be true. What they fail to mention is those killings are being accomplished not by the police, but by actual criminals.
“As long as Phoenix continues to create the conditions for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color), poor, disabled, and LGBTQ+ communities to be harassed, ticketed, and criminalized, police will continue to hurt and kill community members,” the organization wrote.
“There is no magic combination of federal investigations, reports full of recommendations, changes to training, or new police leadership that will change that.”
Black Lives Matter local leadership is not expecting much and will accept nothing less than defunding the police (shocker).
It is clear that Garland and his neo-Marxist head of the Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke are targeting police departments. Not familiar with Clarke?
Law Enforcement Today also reported on Clarke in May. In 1999, Clarke participated in a conference that defended men imprisoned for murdering police officers. And she’s the one who is charged with investigating police departments for pattern and practice?
The conference had organized anti-government activist who supported the freeing of death row inmates, who they referred to as “political prisoners.”
One of those inmates is Mumia-Abu-Jamal, accused in the execution-style killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Another “political prisoner” is a woman named Assata Shakur, convicted of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper, then escaping from custody. She remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and is living in Cuba, where she was granted asylum.
In fact, conference attendees left for Philadelphia after the conference ended and attended a rally calling for Abu-Jamal’s release from prison.
Clarke is also an advocate of defunding the police (what could go wrong with that in a pattern and practice investigation?) and was called out on it by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) during her Senate confirmation hearing:
“Your advocacy, and frankly, extreme position on defunding the police is paired with a history of not only excusing but celebrating murderers who have murdered police officers.”
Make no mistake about it. Look at what is going on…a significant increase in pattern or practice investigations…a push to defund the police…claiming “violent white extremists” are the biggest threat facing the country…expanding the US Capitol Police beyond Washington, DC.
We are seeing the greatest threat to our liberty in decades. Cutting police departments off at the knees by way of federal “oversight,” removing their funding and a nationalized police department.
Nervous? You should be.
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