Police departments should go on the offensive now against the race-based assault that a prospective Democratic Justice Department would bring.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were unambiguous throughout their presidential campaign: they believe that racism pervades policing and all other aspects of the criminal-justice system. Just a day before the networks declared Biden the president-elect, he claimed a “mandate” to eliminate “systemic racism.” He doubled down on that claim the next day, in his first speech as presumptive president-elect. During the campaign, Biden routinely announced that black parents were right to worry that their children would be shot by the police, an assertion formalized in his campaign plan for “strengthening . . . justice.”
Biden’s plan for “strengthening America’s commitment to justice” reads like a Black Lives Matter wish list; there is no reason to think that a Biden–Harris Justice Department will not implement it. Among its most consequential proposals, it calls for a return to the practice of imposing weakly-justified consent decrees on police departments. During the Obama years, career attorneys in the Justice Department regularly opened civil rights investigations into police departments (called “pattern or practice” investigations) without credible evidence that an agency was systematically violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Those investigations almost invariably resulted in settlements (called consent decrees) that placed police departments under the control of a nonelected federal monitor and a federal judge; monitors collected millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded fees while they held police departments to draconian deadlines and mindless paper-pushing mandates for years on end.