“As mayor of Newark, I began as a skeptic of federal law enforcement consent decrees as we worked proactively to address long-standing issues with the Newark Police Department, working with the ACLU and residents to increase transparency and seek reforms. But I learned through my experience that these agreements can provoke meaningful changes in policing practices that improve public safety and fight crime while building trust between communities and police departments, ensuring fair enforcement of laws, and protecting civil rights. State and local police departments play a critical role in protecting our citizens and the vast majority of police officers do an incredible job in tough circumstances. Consent decrees, where necessary and properly constructed and implemented, can help keep officers and citizens safe, and improve life in the communities they serve.
“I’m deeply concerned that Attorney General Sessions’ announcement for a Department of Justice review of federal civil rights agreements with law enforcement would undermine the principle of equal justice for all Americans. I fear that this announcement paves the way for a retreat from accountability and oversight of allegations of systemic civil rights abuses. This would be a tremendous setback to both the efforts of our communities’ to fight crime and America’s ongoing commitment to fulfilling the promises of our Constitution. We need a Justice Department that takes seriously its charge to faithfully and vigorously enforce the nation’s civil rights laws and ensure that no one is above the law.”