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Federal intervention to reform police departments results in gradual change, CSUSB professor’s research indicates
USA Today via MSN
Dec. 21, 2021

Zachary Powell, CSUSB assistant professor of criminal justice, discussed the impact federal consent decrees have on local law enforcement reform for an article about U.S. Department of Justice investigations of the police departments in Louisville, Ky., and Phoenix, Ariz. The article cited research Powell and two other scholars published in 2017 that examined the effect of federal consent decrees on local jurisdictions.

Whatever the current investigations determine, research shows it may take years to see any effects from negotiated reforms. Powell said it's tough to gauge the impact of consent decrees, since there are no national data.

Powell and fellow researchers reviewed lawsuits filed against 23 police departments under consent decrees from 1990 to 2013. They compare what happened before the consent decree and what followed.

The big takeaway? Evidence suggests federal intervention may help reduce civil rights lawsuits, though the change happens slowly, Powell said.

"You have to retrain officers, maybe you have to hire some new people, you're implementing new reporting systems and things like that, so this effect gradually happens over time," he said.

The Louisville Metro Police Department had been under a national spotlight for nearly a year, since protesters began demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman police shot dead in her home March 2020 while attempting to serve a search warrant. While no single incident in Phoenix received as much national attention as the killings of Floyd or Taylor, its ongoing legacy of excessive violence and discriminatory justice by police made it stand out.

Read the complete article at “DOJ investigations in Phoenix, Louisville send a message: Policing is under the microscope.”

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