Leaders of U.S. police groups will meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday to discuss his sweeping civil investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis and similar probes, according to a spokesman for the National Sheriffs’ Association.
The investigation, which follows this week’s jury verdict that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, marks a return to more assertive federal oversight of state and local police, a policy the Justice Department largely abandoned during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.
“We are looking forward to continuing the conversation and collaborative relationship between the Justice Department and sheriffs to work on solutions to continue to keep our communities safe,” Sheriff’s Association spokesman Patrick Royal said ahead of the virtual meeting.
The national Fraternal Order of Police said its executive director, Jim Pasco, would attend the session.
Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Floyd’s death was one in a long series of killings of Black men and women by law enforcement that sparked nationwide protests over racial injustice.
“Officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community and public safety requires public trust,” Garland said when he launched the investigation on Wednesday.
Friday’s meeting with leaders of law enforcement groups was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Chauvin’s conviction on all three counts of murder or manslaughter was a milestone in the fraught racial history of the United States and a rebuke of law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said they welcomed the federal investigation, and pledged to cooperate.
There have been questions by groups representing law enforcement officers and conservative politicians over the effectiveness of federal efforts to reform police departments, which are typically achieved through court-approved settlements known as consent decrees.
During Democratic President Barack Obama’s presidency, some police unions complained that the decrees stigmatize police and impose overly restrictive limits on use of force.
Garland on April 16 rescinded a Trump-era memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees in investigations of law enforcement agencies.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)
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