The article “Justice Department Ends Era of Pushing Police Reform” by J. Brian Charles aims to discuss the recent changes to the Department of Justice’s approach to the law enforcement. On 15th September 2017, the Department of Justice announced that a decision had been made to reduce the efforts linked to the Collaborative Reform Initiative, started back in 2011 (Charles). The initiative was originally designed to provide federal support to local police departments in building community relations. The article was published in Governing and thus targets people who are interested in politics and public safety matters.
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The piece focuses on the announcement made by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on the 15th September, which introduced significant cuts to the Collaborative Reform Initiative (Charles). The author explains that the initiative was first undertaken by Obama in an effort to help police departments to build strong community relations: “Launched in 2011, the Collaborative Reform Initiative has been a voluntary program in which local departments could seek assistance from federal officials to help build community relations” (Charles).
The program allowed police chefs to request federal officials to investigate the agency and suggest possible ways of improving relationships with local people. However, the recent changes to the DOJ’s approach to law enforcement, which is now in line with the President’s views on community policing, caused the department to review the initiative.
There are two key lessons to be learned from the event. First of all, public safety is highly influenced by politics, including the decisions made by the Congress and the President. Throughout his run for the presidency, Donald Trump has been calling for the law enforcement to adopt a harsher approach to policing. Similar views are also endorsed by many Republican politicians.
Therefore, the decision made by the DOJ to cut the Collaborative Reform Initiative, instead focusing on training departments in “gang suppression, disruption of drug markets and policing mass demonstrations” (Charles), is clearly influenced by politics. Secondly, The case also shows the possible motives for and impacts of such decision. For example, one of the fundamental motives for reducing the initiative was that it promoted adversarial relationships between federal and local agencies.
Some of the key impacts of such a decision, according to experts, would be impaired policing and community relations (Charles). A feasible alternative to the DOJ’s decision would be to incorporate guidance on building community relations into additional training on gang suppression and other public safety issues included under the new policy.
The DOJ’s decision and the response to it shows the relationship between public safety organizations and politics. Furthermore, it also shows the diversity of opinions and motives that are taken into account during the political decision-making process. Even after the decision was announced, there was a significant divergence of opinions on the matter among the local police chiefs and officers. The key stakeholders impacted by the new policy are law enforcement officers and communities; however, like many other public safety decisions, the policy is part of the overall political landscape.
Moreover, the article presents an example of behind the scenes political activity, as the announcement was made to the public only after the decision has been made. Overall, the article provides a useful example of how political choices affect the law enforcement and similar organizations, thus highlighting the importance of political awareness for public safety leaders.
Charles, J. Brian. “Justice Department Ends Era of Pushing Police Reform.” Governing. 2017. Web.