The one singular characteristic of the Obama Administration was its total willingness to kill people in order to create a crisis that would warrant federal involvement to the detriment of local authority or civil liberties. The most obvious case of this was the Fast & Furious gunwalking project that resulted in hundreds of deaths, including the death of a US Border Patrol agent, in an attempt to establish a fact pattern that would allow the Obama administration to increase the regulation of firearms sales. But perhaps the most damaging activity of the Obama administration was its blatant vendetta against law enforcement. It started out with Obama’s “the police acted stupidly” statement. When thuglet Michael Brown assaulted a police officer and was killed for his efforts, a well-deserved killing, in fact, the Obama administration sent White House representation to his funeral and perpetrated the “hands up don’t shoot” nonsense.
Under the guise of investigating civil rights complains, the Obama administration carried out a campaign of bullying police departments and harassing police officers. The real objective of the campaign seemed to be focused on increasing federal management of local police forces, either directly or indirectly, and to emphasize to street criminals and the #BLM bunch, to the extent you can tell the two apart, that “we have your back.” This, of course, had unfortunate results. Police officers made a valid decision that it was best to not actively police high crime and predominantly minority neighborhoods because the odds of a confrontation ending in their firing or arrest and imprisonment were skyrocketing. Perversely, this resulted in a drop in reported crime in those neighborhoods because if you don’t trust the police or don’t thing the police care there is scant incentive for you to report crime. In also ended up with a higher death toll of police officers to hostile fire. There was a 50% increase in such deaths from 2015 to 2016. The situation was so pronounced that the head of the National Association of Police Organizations laid the blame squarely at Obama’s feet.
Two days after Trump was inaugurated I noted how the White House website on had a new page titled Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community and how it seemed to be 180-degrees from the Obama administration. Now we know that change is coming:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated on Tuesday that the federal government would back away from monitoring troubled police departments, which was the central strategy of the Obama administration to force accountability onto local law enforcement amid rising racial tensions.
In his first speech as attorney general, Mr. Sessions did not name any specific cities, but he indicated that Justice Department scrutiny from afar was undermining the effectiveness of the police across the country. It was a clear reference to the aggressive efforts of the Obama administration to oversee law enforcement agencies charged with civil rights abuses.
“We need, so far as we can, in my view, help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness,” Mr. Sessions said in remarks to the National Association of Attorneys General. “And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that. So we’re going to try to pull back on this, and I don’t think it’s wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.”
This view is very much in line with the views expressed by Sessions while he was in the Senate and during his confirmation hearing:
In a November 2015 Senate hearing called “The War on Police,” Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, tore into the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which under Obama has taken a more forceful approach to investigating systemic abuses of police power. He accused the department of overstepping its authority and undermining officers.
“There is a perception, not altogether unjustified, that this department, the Civil Rights Division, goes beyond fair and balanced treatment but has an agenda that’s been a troubling issue for a number of years,” Sessions said.
Sessions has also criticized consent decrees, the Justice Department’s main tool to impose reforms. He once called them “one of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power” and “an end run around the democratic process.”
There is a federal role in ensuring police departments are not engaged in a systematic abuse of civil rights, but the primary responsibility for this must lay with elected officials who represent the will of the people.