You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Hillary Clinton Says She'd Beef Up Federal Oversight Of Police

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 6/11/2015 Ryan J. Reilly
ATHENA IMAGE © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- Expanding the federal government's abilities to investigate police departments across the country would be a key part of Hillary Clinton's approach to criminal justice reform if she were president, an aide told The Huffington Post on Friday.

Clinton's plan would include doubling funding for the Justice Department's collaborative reform program that works with police departments to implement change, expanding the Civil Rights Division unit that investigates law enforcement agencies, and adding funds for training for officers on the federal, state and local level.

Clinton supports giving subpoena power to Justice Department lawyers investigating law enforcement agencies that may be engaged in unconstitutional behavior, such as the revenue-driven practices DOJ found during its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, according to the aide. 

While there are thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country, there are only about 50 lawyers in the unit in charge of investigating potential civil rights violations. An aide said Clinton believes the small size of that unit has limited the Justice Department's abilities to meet the demand for its services, a point on which many civil rights attorneys inside and outside the Justice Department agree.

Clinton's plan would also double funding for a "proactive" alternative to the traditional, adversarial types of investigations done by the Civil Rights Division, which is run out of DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. That so-called collaborative reform effort was established in 2011. Most recently, the Department worked collaboratively with the St. Louis County Police Department and found that the agency put too much of an emphasis on its SWAT team and exhibited a “pattern of light discipline in investigations involving ethical failings and untruthfulness." While many such collaborative reform efforts have been effective, they lack the enforcement mechanisms that come with a federal civil rights investigation.

Clinton also wants to make sure that every member of law enforcement gets ongoing training on "issues such as effective policing approaches (including procedural justice, community policing and problem solving, appropriate use of force, de-escalation, mass demonstrations response); fair and impartial policing (including addressing implicit bias, engagement with the LGBT community, in particular transgender individuals); pursuing alternatives to incarceration and public health or other interventions where appropriate (including tools to respond to incidents involving mental health or substance abuse crisis); officer safety and wellness (including best practices in stress management, recognizing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder, reducing officer injuries)," according to the aide.

Clinton will likely discuss her plan Friday night, when she and other Democratic presidential candidates appear at an MSNBC forum hosted by Rachel Maddow in South Carolina.

Also on HuffPost:

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon