The Dallas Morning News

Garland rescinds curbs on probes

Trump-era restrictio­ns made investigat­ing police more difficult

- By MICHAEL BALSAMO

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday rescinded a Trumpera memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees that federal prosecutor­s have used in sweeping investigat­ions of police department­s.

Garland issued a new memorandum to all U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department leaders spelling out the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local government­s.

In easing restrictio­ns placed on the use of consent decrees, the Justice Department is making it easier for its prosecutor­s to use the tool to force changes at police department­s and other agencies with widespread abuse and misconduct.

The memo in particular rescinds a previous memo issued by then-attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly before he resigned in November 2018.

Democrats have long argued the ability of the Justice Department’s civil rights division to conduct sweeping probes of police department­s had been curtailed under President Donald Trump.

“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriat­e legal authoritie­s to safeguard civil rights,” Garland said.

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