A second local prosecutor asked the U.S. Justice Department to have his name removed from a controversial report on policing reforms, saying he feared it would fail to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system, reported Reuters.
Mark Dupree, the district attorney in Wyandotte
County, Kansas, told U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a letter seen by
Reuters he felt the work of the department’s special law enforcement commission
had been “smothered by a pernicious political agenda.”
The commission started working before the May
killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests
against racism and police brutality.
Dupree, an African American, is the second person
who worked on the commission to resign.
He is also at least the third person involved with
the commission known to voice concerns the Justice Department was not
adequately considering feedback from all interested parties on improving
policing practices in America.
“We have received Mr. Dupree’s letter and we respect his request,” a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement.
“He was a valuable member of the working group on
Reentry Programs and Initiatives and made important contributions to the
In October, a federal judge temporarily stopped the
Justice Department from publishing the commission’s report, saying it had
violated federal open meetings laws.
The ruling came after the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund (NAACP LDF) sued the panel, alleging it lacked diverse
membership, allowed police interest groups to have undue influence on the
commission’s work, and failed to give ample access to open meetings.
The commission had planned to deliver a slate of
proposals recommending sweeping new powers for police shortly before the
November presidential election.
Attorney General William Barr in January said the commission would recommend best practices at a time when “criminal threats and social conditions have changed the responsibilities and roles of police officers.”
In draft chapters of the report seen by Reuters, it calls
for bolstering due-process protections for officers accused of wrongdoing and
expanding police surveillance powers. But it does not address any concerns
about systemic racism in policing.
Earlier this month, the judge told the Justice
Department it could only release the final report with a disclaimer saying it
was written in violation of federal open meeting laws.
A court filing this week indicated the Justice
Department may release the report in the coming weeks, though the NAACP LDF is
still fighting for all drafts and internal communications to be made public.
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