Attorney General Merrick Garland canceled a Trump-era memo that limited the use of consent decrees.
“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said.
Garland’s decision to end the memorandum comes after years of unrest due to police killing of Black people.
“Our commitment to equal justice is a whole department effort,” the attorney general said. “That effort will involve work by our grant making components to help police departments around the country improve their practices through funding and technical assistance, leverage to promote policing policies that benefit communities and enhance trust.”
Garland issued a new agreement to U.S. attorneys and Justice Department leaders that define the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local governments.
As the Justice Department prioritizes civil rights issues, Garland’s decision marks a change that will help restore confidence in policing policies.
“As the ongoing and never-ending pattern of tragic police shootings around our nation demonstrate, our country must use every tool at its disposal to seek justice, transform the criminal legal system, and earn community trust,” Miriam Krinsky, the founder of Just and Fair Prosecution, said. “These issues have never been more dire. And let’s hope that this is the first of many acts by our new Administration and new AG to turn the corner and bring a new vision forward to policing, police reform and enhanced police accountability.”