Policing

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How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
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Updates
Recent Updates
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  • 5/22/2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States." The memo says that state or local jurisdictions that violate a federal law requiring the sharing of information with federal officials about someone's immigration or legal status, might not receive grants from the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security. The memo seems to be directed against sanctuary cities.[1]
  • 5/20/2017: The Supreme Court may decide in October if a warrant is necessary for police to search for a cell phone's location.[2]
  • 5/19/17: The Justice Department introduced the National Blue Alert Network, an alert system about individuals who have threatened, injured, or killed a police officer.[3]
  • 5/17/17: Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. accepted a position as assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.[4]
  • 5/15/2017: Trump proclaimed May 15, 2017, to be Peace Officers Memorial Day and the following week as Police Week. He also directed that the flag be flown at half staff.[5] This is to recognize the 118 officers that died in the line of duty in 2016. 963 people died by state-sanctioned lethal force that year, 12% of whom were not known to be armed.[6]

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress
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Legislative Actions[edit]

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • Email Privacy Act (HR 387) helps protect our privacy by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they can access customer email communications, or cloud-based storage. Previously, emails older than 180 days could be obtained with a subpoena.[7]
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Harmful Legislation



  • The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (HR 38) would allow any gun owner doing concealed carry following the the state laws of which they are a resident, to still do so within the borders of any other state, even if the permit requirements are different, and the state hasn’t banned concealed carry. The bill also has a provision that states that concealed carry holders are not subject to the federal ban prohibiting guns in schools.
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Protest Laws[edit]

Since the election, several pieces of legislation have been introduced, with hopes of discouraging organizers from exercising their right to free speech as outlined in the Declaration of Human Rights, and the right of peaceful assembly as outlined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Trump Administration, has voiced disdain, and opposition to several protests, often alluding to them being illegal or staged. Riding this wave, several state lawmakers have taken the opportunity to capitalize on the recent surge of protest that inhibits traffic to introduce harmful legislation at state levels. So far in 2017, the following 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation subjecting those participating in protests to harsher consequences:
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Go to OurStates.org to view the bills currently being considered in your state.

Limiting Investigations of Police Departments[edit]

During Obama’s tenure, the Department of Justice had made police reform a priority. The Department of Justice had a heavy hand on local law enforcement compliance through issuing consent decrees, which Jeff Sessions has documented his opposition to. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which is the branch that investigates law enforcement believed to be violating citizen’s rights, and creating accountability for discrimination by law enforcement may have its funding cut. As they are often investigating police departments and collecting data to assist in these investigations, this has made them a likely target for Sessions as he works to limit the Department of Justice’s involvement in police department Civil Rights suits.

Consent Decrees[edit]

A consent decree is an agreement to settle a dispute. For criminal issues a consent decree is made without admission of guilt. For civil cases a consent decree is made without any monetary obligation.

Consent decrees have been signed by numerous cities to work on police reform with the Justice Department’s civil rights division. These were settlements that addressed unconstitutional police practices and needed reforms after extensive fact-finding and research by the Justice Department.

Out of court agreements are similar to decrees but cities are responsible for reforms without federal oversight.

Police unions had endorsed Trump, have supported nomination of Sessions for Attorney General, and lobbied congress in the past for pro-police policies. During the Obama administration the Civil Rights Division began investigations and initiated consent decrees and agreements to reform policing, for example in Baltimore and Chicago. On April 3, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo ordering the Justice Department to review all consent decrees to ensure pro-policing principles.

See the state pages for current decrees and agreements in your state.

Gun Violence Prevention[edit]

Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are both supporters of Project Exile, and during his campaign Trump suggested that it should be expanded. [8][9] Project Exile, a collaboration between law enforcement and federal prosecutors to bring gun-crime cases to federal court in order to impose longer sentences, has been criticized for its unfair impact on black communities. [10] Rather than target gun violence in white communities (largely consisting of domestic violence, mass shootings, and shootings by legal gun owners), Trump has proposed to address gun violence by focusing on "gang members" and "drug dealers" in “cities like Baltimore and Chicago.” [11] Project Exile and similar programs have disproportionately impacted black people, put black defendants on trial in front of juries chosen from a federal jury pool (which is less likely to include black jurors), and resulted in longer sentences for those convicted, with these sentences served in federal penitentiaries located farther away from their families. [12]

Cooperation with ICE[edit]

Trump has threatened to cut federal funding from cities that do not cooperate with ICE agents as detailed in the Executive Order 13768[13]. In April 2017, the administration announced that they would not be publishing a list of cities and counties that failed to comply with the ICE agents, largely due to confusion created from misleading information. ICE will suspend until they can refine their research methodologies.[14]

292 constitutional law, immigration law, administrative law and international law professors and scholars have concluded that this threat is unconstitutional.

Sanctuary cities have been found to experience significantly lower rates of all types of crime, including lower homicide rates, than comparable non-sanctuary counties. [15] It is unclear if the limits on federal funding will be enough to change state/local policy. This is especially true when considering the impact to state/local economies of helping federal immigration authorities identify and deport undocumented immigrants.[16]

School-to-Prison Pipeline[edit]

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to disciplining youth in schools. Discipline has been shown to criminalize student behavior and result in harsh punishments, including prosecuting youth in the adult criminal justice system.

Policing in Schools

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), within the Department of Justice, was created after the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed. COPS oversees funds used to address crime and disorder in schools through a partnership between schools and law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers are assigned to schools, where they are often called school resource officers (SROs). SROs do not receive standardized training from state to state, but often are in roles of counselors, mentors, and educators. In 2013, SROs received nearly four times as much funding as school counselors did [17][18].

SROs can handcuff students, use physical force, suspend students, arrest them, and bring them into the criminal justice system. SROs are often guided by “zero-tolerance policies” that penalize students for behavior in schools that is usually not criminal or is seen as only a minor offense, no matter the circumstance.

Racial Disparities

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice (Departments) wrote up guidance for enforcing student discipline without discrimination based on race. They based their recommendations on the [ocrdata.ed.gov Civil Rights Data Collection] (CRDC).

CRDC data showed that African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as their white peers without disabilities to be expelled or suspended. Although African-Americans are only 15% of students, they are 35% of those suspended once, 44% of those suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. Over 50% of students arrested or referred to law enforcement were Latin-American or African-American. In addition, African-American students are more likely to attend schools that are policed, and remain more likely to be arrested at school. Recently, ACLU research has found that putting police in schools results in criminalizing youth of color. More information can be found in the ACLU report "Bullies in Blue—The Origins and Consequences of School Policing."

Recent Updates[edit]

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
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  • While much of Trump's policing agenda can be enacted through executive/administrative action without needing Congress to pass new legislation, these executive actions' impact will be limited by the fact that the vast majority of policing is governed at the state and local levels. Most police violence is committed by state and local law enforcement, as well. For example, 98% of people killed by police are killed by state and local law enforcement officers.[mappingpoliceviolence.org] Nearly 200 local law enforcement leaders have declared their opposition to Trump's "law and order" agenda,[19] and many cities have declared themselves "Sanctuary Cities" and refused to cooperate on Trump's deportation agenda.
  • While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that he won't intervene to hold police departments and individual officers accountable for civil rights violations,[20] states can pass laws (see California) to authorize their state attorney general to conduct investigations and enforce these violations. Similarly, cities and states have the power to make necessary policy changes to restrict police use of force, oversight, and militarization in the absence of federal intervention.