Trump admin revamps police program:
The Justice Department says it will revamp an Obama-era program that helped troubled police departments build community trust, often after racially charged encounters.
Officials said Friday the initiative will shift its focus to helping local law enforcement fight violent crime. It’s another move away from Obama administration priorities and from federal scrutiny of local police, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes can hurt officer morale.
The program known as “collaborative reform” allowed cities to voluntarily seek assistance from the Justice Department on issues such as use of force. Federal investigators would then release nonbinding recommendations for ways the department could improve, periodically monitoring their progress.
While some cities found the process constructive, the Justice Department under Sessions determined it had become adversarial and counterproductive to crime-fighting. The move marked another shift away from Obama administration priorities and federal scrutiny of local law enforcement, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes can wrongly malign police departments and hurt officer morale. Police are a major constituency for the Trump administration as it espouses a lawand-order agenda.
“This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive, wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support,” Sessions said in a statement. (AP) Suicide among veterans high: Suicide among military veterans is especially high in the western US and rural areas, according to new government data that show wide state-by-state disparities and suggest social isolation, gun ownership and access to healthcare may be factors.
The figures released Friday are the first-ever Department of Veterans Affairs data on suicide by state. It shows Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico had the highest rates of veteran suicide as of 2014, the most current VA data available. Veterans in big chunks of those states must drive 70 miles or more to reach the nearest VA medical center.
The suicide rates in those four states stood at 60 per 100,000 individuals or higher, far above the national veteran suicide rate of 38.4.
The overall rate in the West was 45.5. All other regions of the country had rates below the national rate.
Other states with high veteran suicide rates, including West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, had greater levels of prescription drug use, including opioids. A VA study last year found veterans who received the highest doses of opioid painkillers were more than twice as likely to die by suicide compared to those receiving the lowest doses. (AP)