Judge orders Justice Department's police commission to halt work

11 months ago 48
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Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Thursday ordered a law enforcement commission established by President Donald Trump not to release their findings in a report because their meetings violated transparency laws.

U.S. District Judge John Bates in the District of Columbia said the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act because it didn't include "fairly balanced" perspectives. Also, he said, the commission held meetings in private without first notifying the public.

Trump announced the commission in October 2019, naming 18 law enforcement officials to the body. He directed the commission to study policing and how best to ensure peace in American communities.

"The job of a cop is tougher now than ever before; and the expectation for a cop's responsibilities to blur the lines between law enforcement and public health is more pronounced now than ever before," Attorney General William Barr said in January when announcing details of the commission.

"And they must manage these demands in an environment in which their moral and legal legitimacy is under constant attack from a variety of voices."

The NAACP challenged the formation of the commission, saying in a January release that its composition of only law enforcement officials reflects the administration's rejection of policing reform efforts.

"This commission is designed to advance a conception of public safety that emphasizes an uncritical view of law enforcement, and ignores the legitimate and pressing demands for public safety policies that promote community voice and engagement and challenge unconstitutional policing," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

"Among the questions the commission has been asked to study, none relate to ending police brutality and misconduct, advancing models of community policing, or promoting diversity in law enforcement," she added. "The commission's membership is made up exclusively of law enforcement officials, excluding community and civil rights voices, and the input of scholars who have studied and advanced the most-widely respected innovations in 21st century policing practices."

Bates ordered the commission to halt its work and not publish its findings.

"LDF has an interest in and is directly impacted by the commission's function of studying policing," he wrote in his ruling. "Because Attorney General [William] Barr appointed the commissioners at the same time as establishing the commission, and only selected from those with law enforcement backgrounds, it does not appear that LDF and its representatives had an opportunity to formally apply for commission membership."

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