Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, had a blunt message for Donald Trump during a meeting in September: court-ordered reforms aimed at curbing police abuses in the midwestern city are not working.
Loomis and two other attendees said Trump seemed receptive to Loomis's concerns that federally monitored police reforms introduced during the Obama administration in some cities in response to complaints of police bias and abuse are ineffective and impose an onerous burden on police forces.
Trump, Loomis said, was “taken aback by the waste of money” when the union chief told him that federal monitors overseeing his city’s police department earned $250 an hour - a standard salary for the position.
"I think he’s going to have a more sensible approach to rising crime rates," Loomis said of now President Trump. "What I got from the meeting was that Donald Trump is going be a very strong supporter of law and order."
Emboldened by Trump's election, some of the country’s biggest police groups want to renegotiate "consent decrees" agreed to under President Barack Obama, the police labor groups said in interviews.
Consent decrees are agreements between a police force and the Justice Department that can prescribe changes to use of force, recruiting, training and discipline. They are enforced by a federal court with the oversight of court-appointed monitors. Currently 14 police departments, including Seattle and Miami, are operating under the decrees.
The police groups want to discuss the decrees with Jeff Sessions, Trump's designee for attorney general who has voiced criticism of them, although any renegotiation would be legally complicated because all parties as well as a federal judge must approve any changes.
“There are certainly decrees that are inartfully applied that we’d like to see revisited,” said Jim Pasco, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union with 330,000 members. It endorsed Trump in September and has worked with Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, for years while lobbying Congress for pro-police policies.
“We’ve always found him a man who’s willing to listen to alternatives to a previously charted course,” Pasco said of Sessions.
Civil rights groups are alarmed at the possibility that the decrees could be unraveled, saying they have been an important tool for the government to try to address issues like excessive use of force by police in Baltimore and an officer shooting in Ferguson, Missouri that led to nationwide protests.
Trump officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the meeting with Loomis.
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