Chat is done. Thanks to everyone who participated!
All three experts cited the LAPD as a prime example of a place where reform worked. Rushin suggests reading this review.
If local police refuse to comply with reforms proposed by the government, then the DOJ can file a federal civil suit, or withhold funds under Title VI. “Historically, this has been a mere threat,” said Rushin. “But look at what is happening with Sheriff Terry Johnson of Alamance County, NC.”
The Justice Department regularly monitors news reports to inform where they should investigate. But they also rely on citizens and whistleblowers.
Court involvement is crucial to successful reform, according to Yeomans. He also pointed to targeted efforts, like Portland’s focus on people with disabilities.
To check out the full chat, go here:
In 1999, the Justice Department ordered reforms to curb racial profiling by New Jersey police. In 2007, according to a forthcoming study by Columbia Law School Professor Jeffrey Fagan, black and Latino drivers were still three times more likely to be stopped than whites.
Under a statute known as 14141, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has the authority to investigate state and local law-enforcement agencies suspected of repeated civil rights violations. If federal and local officials agree that change is needed, the Department of Justice will impose reforms that may include dashboard cameras, new training, or computerized databases.
But a recent investigation by Simone Weichselbaum, published at The Marshall Project and TIME, found these reforms often don’t last. The Justice Department admitted that they chose poor benchmarks in the past and had failed to adequately monitor the changes. The process costs taxpayers millions of dollars. And years later, the same civil rights abuse tends to resurface.
“We continue to learn from each of our agreements and, frankly, improve on the way we enforce the statute,” Mark Kappelhoff, a senior official in the Civil Rights Division, told The Marshall Project. “That learning continues up until today.”
So why is this so tough? This Friday at 12 pm ET, you can ask the experts in a chat on The Marshall Project’s Facebook page. We’ll be joined by reporter Simone Weichselbaum, William Yeomans, a 26-year veteran of the Civil Rights Division, and Stephen Rushin, a law professor at the University of Illinois, who is an expert on 14141 investigations.