Law enforcement leaders are strongly responding to new actions recently announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the monitoring of police departments, saying they will "hamstring" officers and are pandering to an anti-police narrative.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that DOJ will be taking a series of new actions to monitor police departments across the country, during a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Monday.
Garland said that "more is needed" beyond federal "pattern-or-practice" investigations into police departments and resulting consent decrees, which is worrisome to those in the law enforcement community.
"Those investigations and the resulting settlements have led to significant improvements in police departments across the country. That, in turn, increases community trust, which is essential to making your difficult jobs safer and more effective," Garland said during the announcement. "It is also no secret that the monitorships associated with some of those settlements have led to frustrations and concerns within the law enforcement community."
Police advocates tell Fox News that federal pattern-or-practice investigations, which result in years long court binding consent decrees, can be "problematic" and often hinder the ability of law enforcement from doing their jobs.
Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, called Garland's move "encouraging," but said it doesn't satisfy every concern, including issues police encountered under the Obama administration, which heavily utilized consent decrees.
"This is an encouraging move. Certainly, it doesn't satisfy every concern with policing consent decrees, but an incremental move in the right direction," said Johnson in a statement to Fox News.
"Under Obama admin these consent decrees ballooned in scope exponentially and do a much better job at adding to monitors' personal wealth than anything else. They MUST be significantly more narrow and pragmatic to have any hope of realizing their stated goal," continued Johnson.
National Police Association spokesperson Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith told Fox News in a statement that one of DOJ's proposed actions, to cap the fees collected by consent decree monitors, its a "very positive step," but expressed concerns over Garland's "more is needed" comment, referring to targeted police agencies.
"These police departments are frequently in high crime, urban areas like Chicago, Minneapolis and Baltimore for example, where the officers are dealing with extraordinary violence, limited resources and unprecedented personnel shortages, especially in the current ‘defund the police’ atmosphere," said Smith.
Because law enforcement in America is "highly decentralized" by design, Smith suggested DOJ "might better serve the public by sending additional ‘boots on the ground’ federal agents to areas experiencing violent crime surges along with federal prosecutors who are willing to help STOP and DETER violent criminals by prosecuting and incarcerating them."
Smith said the National Police Association believes in the constant improvement of police agencies, but "controlling violent criminals is a much more positive step than further hamstringing the legal actions of local law enforcement officers in order to pander to an anti-police narrative."
"Treating the police as though they, not the criminals, are somehow the problem, is neither accurate nor realistic, and we encourage the DOJ to reconsider."
In April, the Biden DOJ announced a decision to return to the Obama administration's heavy use of consent decrees after Trump's DOJ, under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, issued a memo in 2018 greatly narrowing their use.
The Biden administration has since opened a civil pattern-or-practice investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.