DOJ Consent Decrees: More Murder For Your Money

Here on, we often write about the devastating consequences of Consent Decrees in cities across the country where the U.S. Department of Justice has imposed them – resulting in the ruinous trifecta of increased crime rates, out-of-control ineffective spending by the millions, and police officers leaving agencies in droves.

One of the most clear-cut examples of this sad (and unnecessary) phenomenon can be seen by examining murder rates in the Top 20 U.S. cities.

  1. St. Louis, MO (69.4)
  2. Baltimore, MD (51.1) – Consent Decree
  3. New Orleans, LA (40.6) – Consent Decree
  4. Detroit, MI (39.7) – Consent Decree
  5. Cleveland, OH (33.7) – Consent Decree
  6. Las Vegas, NV (31.4)
  7. Kansas City, MO (31.2)
  8. Memphis, TN (27.1) – Active DOJ investigation seeking a Consent Decree
  9. Newark, NJ (25.6) – Consent Decree
  10. Chicago, IL (24) – Consent Decree
  11. Cincinnati, OH (23.8) – Consent Decree
  12. Philadelphia, PA (20.2)
  13. Milwaukee, WI (20.0)
  14. Tulsa, OK (18.6)
  15. Pittsburgh, PA (18.4) – Consent Decree
  16. Indianapolis, IN (17.7)
  17. Louisville, KY (17.5) – Consent Decree being prepared
  18. Oakland, CA (17.1) – Consent Decree
  19. Washington D.C. (17.0) – Consent Decree
  20. Atlanta, GA (16.7)

A bit of analysis is in order.

Four of the Top 5 cities in murder rate have, or recently had, active DOJ consent decrees.

Let that sink in.

Baltimore (active), New Orleans (active), Detroit (consent decree ended in 2014), and Cleveland (active).

While #1 St. Louis hasn’t itself had a DOJ consent decree, it’s suburb – Ferguson, Missouri – currently does.

Looking at the full Top 20 list – 12 of those cities currently have, recently had, or are currently in the process of receiving a federal consent decree on their police departments. That is 60% of the Top 20, or 50% if Louisville and Memphis are removed because they don’t (yet) have active consent decrees.

That’s not a good track record, considering there have only been 81 total DOJ pattern or practice investigations since 1994, and not all of the 81 received consent decrees.

Even if we state the obvious – not all of the Top 20 murder capitals in this country have been affected by consent decrees – one thing that is indisputable is that consent decrees certainly aren’t making the affected cities any safer.

With 12 cities in the Top 20, this is clearly the case.

As we have often said, DOJ “police reform” efforts are counterproductive, and have only made things worse in the affected cities.

We aren’t saying police reform is unnecessary. In fact, police departments MUST improve and reform if they want to stay relevant. But there is a better way.

Reform and accountability work best when they remain local. Our message is simply that the DOJ consent decree model of police reform doesn’t work, and it is time for cities and police agencies to stop being intimidated by DOJ and the lies it tells to get what it wants.

We noticed that Phoenix isn’t anywhere on the Top 20 list, despite being the fifth largest city in the country. This of course is due to the effectiveness of the Phoenix Police Department, currently led by Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan.

If Phoenix wants to stay off the list, city officials there will need to tell DOJ “no” when it finally concludes it’s two-year investigation of Phoenix and presents the city with a shiny new consent decree for them to sign.

And for the first time, it appears that those officials will do just that. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported yesterday that a majority of the Phoenix City Council – including Mayor Kate Gallego – has now publicly committed to not signing a DOJ consent decree without first reviewing DOJ’s “evidence”, in the form of its Findings Report.

We want to commend the Mayor for her leadership on this issue – if anyone thinks that is an easy position to take, thing again. The political pressure being exerted behind the scenes for the Mayor to “get on board” with the DOJ reform machine must be intense.

But the response form the Mayor – and a majority of her Council colleagues – has been tempered, and completely reasonable: before we agree to ANYTHING, please provide us with your investigative findings so we can carefully review and verify it.

There is nothing extreme about that.

In fact, we would respectfully suggest that it would be extreme (and unwise) to sign an agreement like a DOJ consent decree before having a chance to review the evidence. But that is exactly what has happened in every city where DOJ has tendered a consent decree in the name of “police reform”.

So at this critical moment for Phoenix, we implore Phoenix residents to support Mayor Gallego and the City Council members who have had the guts to do, so far, what is best for Phoenix.

Send them an email and let them know you support what they are doing.

And for the Council members who have yet to decide how to proceed – like Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari – we encourage you to reach out. Email us, and we will get you connected to some experts who can help you out.

Together, let’s keep Phoenix safe and off the Top 20 Cities by Murder Rate list.

Say “NO” to a DOJ consent decree.