[Guest post by DRJ]
Heather MacDonald profiles Attorney General-designate Eric Holder’s attitude toward race and the police, including the Los Angeles police department, in a column published yesterday in City Journal.
MacDonald begins by pointing out that it was Holder who insisted on imposing a consent decree on the LAPD after the Rampart scandal, a decision that cost the city police budget almost $250M over 5 years. She contends the consent decree assumed every LAPD supervisor and officer were borderline racists and corrupt, and that tending to the decree required the reallocation of 350 police from crime-fighting to paper-pushing.
And LA was just the start. “Columbus, Ohio, Washington, DC, and the New Jersey State Police, among other departments, felt the heat.”
Holder also played a role in claims that some police departments routinely engage in racial profiling:
“The late 1990s also saw the rise of the bogus “racial profiling” concept, in which police departments were deemed racist if their stop and arrest rates didn’t match population benchmarks. That primitive analytical framework, initially promoted by the ACLU, ignores the wildly disparate racial crime rates and the inevitable effect of those crime rates on police activity. The Justice Department under Deputy Attorney General Holder gave a significant push to its evolution, and the momentum of DOJ-sponsored “racial profiling” conferences and DOJ-funded research continued through the early years of the Bush administration.”
MacDonald suggests Holder’s actions impaired the ability of police departments to fight crime through the use of suspect policies. To make that clear, she suggests the Senators ask Holder these questions during his confirmation hearing:
“[O]n what grounds [would] he would inflict his civil-rights attorneys on police departments?”
“[Does] he believe that a racially disparate stop rate provides prima facie evidence of police racism?”
My gut feeling is these questions may not be asked. The GOP is hesitant to irritate the public by fighting too many battles with Obama early in his Administration. I think the main battles will be Geithner and bailout money. Unfortunately for America’s big city police departments, Holder may get a pass.