Justice Department Announces New Rule Implementing Federal Time Credits Program Established by the First Step Act

Today, Thursday January 13, the Department of Justice announced that a new rule has been submitted to the Federal Register implementing the Time Credits program required by the First Step Act for persons incarcerated in federal facilities who committed nonviolent offenses. As part of the implementation process, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has begun transferring eligible inmates out of BOP facilities and into either a supervised release program or into Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs) or home confinement (HC).

“The First Step Act, a critical piece of bipartisan legislation, promised a path to an early return home for eligible incarcerated people who invest their time and energy in programs that reduce recidivism,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today, the Department of Justice is doing its part to honor this promise, and is pleased to implement this important program.”

The First Step Act of 2018 provides eligible inmates the opportunity to earn 10 to 15 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in Evidence Based Recidivism Reduction Programs and Productive Activities. The earned credits can be applied toward earlier placement in pre-release custody, such as RRCs and HC. In addition, at the BOP Director’s discretion, up to 12 months of credit can be applied toward Supervised Release. Inmates are eligible to earn Time Credits retroactively back to Dec. 21, 2018, the date the First Step Act was enacted, subject to BOP’s determination of eligibility.

Implementation will occur on a rolling basis, beginning with immediate releases for inmates whose Time Credits earned exceed their days remaining to serve, are less than 12 months from release, and have a Supervised Release term. Some of these transfers have already begun, and many more will take place in the weeks and months ahead as BOP calculates and applies time credits for eligible incarcerated individuals.

The final rule will be published by the Federal Register in the coming weeks and will take immediate effect. The rule, as it was submitted to the Federal Register, can be viewed here: https://www.bop.gov/inmates/fsa/docs/bop_fsa_rule.pdf

Please note: This is the text of the First Step Act Time Credits final rule as signed by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but the official version of the final rule will be as it is published in the Federal Register.

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Justice Department Awards Almost $141 Million to Protect Children

The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced grant awards totaling nearly $141 million to help protect children from exploitation, trauma and abuse, while also funding improvements in the judicial system’s handling of child abuse and neglect cases. 

“The Justice Department has a solemn responsibility to help keep young people safe and out of harm’s way,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These grants provide a wide variety of investigative and trauma-informed resources that will help law enforcement and child-serving professionals address child exploitation and abuse.”

These awards will provide law enforcement officials, child advocates and service providers the means to protect children from abuse and sexual exploitation. Funds will help develop, enhance and strengthen investigative and trauma-informed services to assist youth, while supporting robust training and technical assistance efforts to ensure the professionals working with these youth have the tools they need to be successful. 

“Protecting our children, securing their health and well-being, and addressing the trauma that too many young people have experienced are central to our mission at the Office of Justice Programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon for OJP. “These grants will give public safety professionals and those who serve our children and youth the tools they need to keep kids safe from harm and put them on the path to a safe and bright future.” 

Grants from OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) are distributing millions of dollars to local, state and Tribal jurisdictions throughout the United States, territories and the District of Columbia. 

Below is a list of funded grants: 

Missing and Exploited Children 

  • Nearly $37 million funds the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which enables the center’s operations and provides support, technical assistance and training to help law enforcement locate and recover missing and exploited children. 
  • Another $6 million is being awarded to NCMEC’s National Resource Center and Clearinghouse (NRCC) as part of an interagency agreement between OJJDP and the U.S. Secret Service. The NRCC helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation, and provides training and technical assistance to victims, their families and the professionals who serve them.  
  • About $4.4 million  supports the National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program to help the AMBER Alert network improve law enforcement’s response to abducted children and encourage public participation in their recovery. 

Internet Crimes Against Children 

Victims of Child Abuse 

  • An additional $5 million in continuation funding is being awarded to four organizations via the VOCA Regional Children’s Advocacy Center program. This program supports regional centers that help to establish multidisciplinary teams, local programs and state chapter organizations that respond to child abuse and neglect, and that deliver training and technical assistance. 

Children Exposed to Violence and Child Protection  

  • More than $7 million is being awarded to communities under the Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence Program to develop or enhance support services for children exposed to violence and to implement community violence intervention strategies. Funding also supports training and technical assistance for program sites. 

Research 

Once the awards are made, information about the grantees selected under each solicitation can be found online at the OJP Grant Awards Page

OJP provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at  www.ojp.gov

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Justice Department Will Award $1.6 Billion to Reduce Violent Crime and Strengthen Communities

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the Department of Justice will award $1.6 billion in grant awards to support a wide range of programs designed to reduce violent crime and strengthen communities. The grants, which are being distributed to communities and organizations throughout the nation, are administered by the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our state and local partners to combat crime across the country,” said Attorney General Garland. “This latest round of funding will deliver critical public safety resources, helping public safety professionals, victim service providers, local agencies and nonprofit organizations confront these serious challenges.” 

As law enforcement agencies address a range of public safety challenges – from violent crime to human trafficking to retail thefts – these awards will provide additional tools to advance violence intervention activities and evidence-based police and prosecution strategies. Funds are also intended to reduce recidivism, help people coming out of prisons and jails make the transition back into their communities and support responses to crises like drug overdoses and episodes involving mental illness. These grants build on earlier OJP investments, including more than $1.2 billion to support victim assistance and compensation programs, $187 million under the state formula Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants Program, more than $175 million in funding for victim services and public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, over $21 million in grants to address hate crimes and $17.5 million in Project Safe Neighborhoods grants. The COPS office also funded the hiring of over 1,000 officers in 183 police departments this year.

Some of the awards address the rise in gun violence and other violent crime in communities across America, in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment in April. These grants help support the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, announced in May, and will advance President Biden’s Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety, released in June.

“These investments reflect a commitment that extends across this administration to invest in our neighborhoods, building bonds of civic trust and ending the cycle of trauma and violence that destroys too many lives and keeps far too many Americans from realizing their potential,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon of OJP.

A full list of awards, as they are made, will be available on the OJP Grant Awards page.

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

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Russian Man Sentenced for Providing ‘Bulletproof Hosting’ for Cybercriminals

A Russian man was sentenced December 1 for providing “bulletproof hosting” services, which were used by cybercriminals between 2009 to 2015 to distribute malware and attack financial institutions and victims throughout the United States.

Chief Judge Denise Page Hood of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced Aleksandr Grichishkin, 34, of Russia, to 60 months in prison for the scheme.

According to court documents, Grichishkin was a founder and leader of a bulletproof hosting organization that rented internet protocol (IP) addresses, servers, and domains to cybercriminal clients who employed this technical infrastructure to disseminate malware that allowed them to gain access to victims’ computers, form botnets, and steal banking credentials for use in frauds. Malware hosted by the organization included Zeus, SpyEye, Citadel, and the Blackhole Exploit Kit, which attacked U.S. companies and financial institutions between 2009 and 2015 and caused or attempted to cause millions of dollars in losses to U.S. victims.

Grichishkin also helped clients evade detection by law enforcement and continue their crimes uninterrupted by monitoring sites used to blocklist technical infrastructure used for crime, moving “flagged” content to new infrastructure, and registering all such infrastructure under false or stolen identities. On June 28 and Oct. 20, respectively, Chief Judge Hood sentenced two of Grichishkin’s co-conspirators, Pavel Stassi, 30, of Estonia, to 24 months in prison and Aleksandr Skorodumov, 33, of Lithuania, to 48 months in prison for their roles in the scheme.

According to court filings and statements made in connection with the defendants’ guilty pleas, Grichishkin was one of the organization’s founders and proprietors, and its day-to-day leader. In this role, he oversaw efforts to advertise the organization’s bulletproof hosting services in online cybercrime forums, set pricing for these services, negotiated and interfaced with clients seeking internet infrastructure to be used in spamming and malware operations, managed employee hiring and compensation, and supervised the systems administrators’ and other employees’ work. He also regularly instructed other members of the organization on how to “resolve” abuse notices by, among other methods, moving the affected clients’ data to new, “clean” domains and IP addresses.

Stassi, Skorodumov, Grichishkin, and a fourth defendant, Andrei Skvortsov, 34, of Russia, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization. Skvortsov is pending sentencing and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine his sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI investigated the case with critical assistance from law enforcement partners in Germany, Estonia, and the United Kingdom.

Senior Counsel Louisa K. Marion of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick E. Corbett of the Eastern District of Michigan prosecuted the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance.

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International Law Enforcement Operation Targeting Opioid Traffickers on the Darknet

Darknet Narcotics Vendors Selling to Tens of Thousands of U.S. Residents Charged

 

On Tuesday, October 26, the Department of Justice, through the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team joined Europol to announce the results of Operation Dark HunTor, a coordinated international effort on three continents to disrupt opioid trafficking on the Darknet. The operation, which was conducted across the United States, Australia, and Europe, was a result of the continued partnership between JCODE and foreign law enforcement against the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods and services. Operation Dark HunTor builds on the success of last year’s Operation DisrupTor and the coordinated law enforcement takedown earlier this year of DarkMarket, the world’s then-largest illegal marketplace on the Darknet. At the time, German authorities arrested the marketplace’s alleged operator and seized the site’s infrastructure, providing investigators across the world with a trove of evidence. Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and JCODE have since been compiling intelligence packages to identify key targets.

Following the DarkMarket takedown in January 2021, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies identified Darknet drug vendors and buyers, resulting in a series of complementary, but separate, law enforcement investigations. Operation Dark HunTor actions have resulted in the arrest of 150 alleged Darknet drug traffickers and other criminals who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods and services across Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Prior to, but in support of Operation Dark HunTor, Italian authorities also shut down the DeepSea and Berlusconi dark web marketplaces which boasted over 40,000 advertisements of illegal products. Four alleged administrators were arrested, and €3.6 million in cryptocurrencies were seized in coordinated U.S.-Italian operations.

Operation Dark HunTor resulted in the seizure of over $31.6 million in both cash and virtual currencies; approximately 234 kilograms (kg) of drugs worldwide including 152.1 kg of amphetamine, 21.6 kg of cocaine, 26.9 kg of opioids, 32.5 kg of MDMA, in addition to more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, and counterfeit medicine ; and 45 firearms. Darknet vendor accounts were also identified and attributed to real individuals selling illicit goods on active marketplaces, as well as inactive Darknet marketplaces such as Dream, WallStreet, White House, DeepSea, and Dark Market.

Operation Dark HunTor led to 65 arrests in the United States, one in Bulgaria, three in France, 47 in Germany, four in the Netherlands, 24 in the United Kingdom, four in Italy, and two in Switzerland. A number of investigations are still ongoing.

“This 10-month massive international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and involved dozens of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies to send one clear message to those hiding on the Darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet. We can and we will shine a light,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “Operation Dark HunTor prevented countless lives from being lost to this dangerous trade in illicit and counterfeit drugs, because one pill can kill. The Department of Justice with our international partners will continue to crack down on lethal counterfeit opioids purchased on the Darknet.”

“The men and women of the department’s Criminal Division, in close collaboration with our team of interagency and international partners, stand ready to leverage all our resources to protect our communities through the pursuit of those who profit from addiction, under the false belief that they are anonymous on the Darknet,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Only through a whole of government and, in this case, global approach to tackling cyber-enabled drug trafficking can we hope to achieve the significant results illustrated in Operation Dark HunTor.”

“The FBI continues to identify and bring to justice drug dealers who believe they can hide their illegal activity through the Darknet,” said FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. “Criminal darknet markets exist so drug dealers can profit at the expense of others’ safety. The FBI is committed to working with our JCODE and EUROPOL law enforcement partners to disrupt those markets and the borderless, worldwide trade in illicit drugs they enable.”

“Today, we face new and increasingly dangerous threats as drug traffickers expand into the digital world and use the Darknet to sell dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “These drug traffickers are flooding the United States with deadly, fake pills, driving the U.S. overdose crisis, spurring violence, and threatening the safety and health of American communities. DEA’s message today is clear: criminal drug networks operating on the Darknet, trying to hide from law enforcement, can no longer hide. DEA, the U.S. interagency, and our valued international partners, are committed to dismantling drug networks wherever they are, including on the Darknet.”

“Illicit darkweb marketplaces represent a significant threat to public health, economic, and national security,” said Acting Director Tae Johnson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “By working collaboratively and sharing intelligence across local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its partners are disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations responsible for introducing dangerous narcotics and other contraband into our communities.”  

“The dark web has become an underground facilitator of illegal commerce,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). “Criminals use the dark web to sell and ship narcotics and other dangerous goods around the world, often relying on the postal system and private carriers to deliver these illegal products. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to finding and stopping these drug traffickers.”

“The Darknet no longer provides a concealing cloak for criminals to operate,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Chief Jim Lee. “The expertise of our agents and law enforcement partners helped uncover significant quantities of narcotics and money — both cash and virtual currency — derived from illicit means.”

“The point of operations such as the one today is to put criminals operating on the dark web on notice: the law enforcement community has the means and global partnerships to unmask them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, even in areas of the dark web,” said Europol’s Deputy Executive Director of Operations Jean-Philippe Lecouffe.

The extensive operation, which lasted 10 months, resulted in dozens of federal operations and prosecutions, including:

  • Four search warrants were executed in furtherance of a multiagency investigation resulting in the seizure of approximately $1 million in drug proceeds (including approximately $700,000 in cryptocurrency), eight firearms, one vehicle, and various controlled substances including MDMA, LSD, and cocaine. The FBI, DEA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and USPIS jointly conducted the investigation. According to court documents, the targets of the investigation were operating over multiple Darknet marketplaces to traffic methamphetamine, counterfeit pressed Adderall (containing methamphetamine), MDMA, cocaine, and ketamine to customers throughout the United States. The investigation revealed that the organization’s base of operations was in Houston, Texas, and the organization shipped to various cities throughout the United States. Six defendants are charged in a five-count indictment in the Southern District of Ohio with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, sale of counterfeit drugs, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • The FBI in conjunction with the USPIS, FDA, and DEA, had been investigating a criminal enterprise that operated two Darknet vendor accounts. One of the accounts was operated out of the Miami area and the other out of the Providence, Rhode Island, area. According to court documents, the vendors, Luis Spencer, 31, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Olatunji Dawodu, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Alex Ogando, 35, of Providence, Rhode Island, allegedly advertised and sold pressed fentanyl pills throughout the United States. Agents identified several other co-conspirators and obtained search and arrest warrants for each. During the execution of the warrants, agents seized approximately $770,000, one weapon and approximately 3.5 kilograms of pressed fentanyl. Spencer, Dawodu, and Ogando are charged in the District of Columbia with conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl.
  • Kevin Olando Ombisi, 32, and Eric Bernard Russell Jr, 36, both of Katy, Texas, are alleged to have participated in Darknet controlled substances trafficking activities using the moniker Cardingmaster and are charged in a 10-count indictment in the Western District of Tennessee with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, attempted unlawful distribution of controlled substances, sale of counterfeit drugs, money laundering conspiracy, and mail fraud. According to court documents, Ombisi and Russell are alleged to have used the moniker Cardingmaster and conspired and attempted to, and did unlawfully distribute the Schedule II controlled substance methamphetamine, which was falsely represented to be Adderall, through the mail in the Western District of Tennessee and elsewhere. In conjunction with their arrests, the government seized more than $5 million in assets alleged to be connected to the drug trafficking activity. The case was investigated by the DEA, HSI, USPIS, and the FDA, and is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.

An indictment and criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Operation Dark HunTor was a collaborative initiative across JCODE members, including the Department of Justice; FBI; DEA; USPIS; ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); IRS-Criminal Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the FDA’s Office of Investigations. This operation was aided by non-operational supporting participation from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Local, state, and other federal agencies also contributed to Operation Dark HunTor investigations through task force participation and regional partnerships. The investigations leading to Operation Dark HunTor were significantly aided by support and coordination by the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), multi-agency Special Operations Division, the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section’s Digital Currency Initiative, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, the Fraud Section, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the National Cyber Joint Investigative Task Force (NCJITF), Europol and its Dark Web team and international partners Eurojust, Australian Federal Police (AFP), Bulgaria’s General Directorate Combating Organized Crime (Главна дирекция Борба с организираната престъпност), France’s National Police (Police National – OCLCTIC) and National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale – C3N), Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt), Central Criminal Investigation Department in the German city of Oldenburg (Zentrale KriminaIinspektion Oldenburg), State Criminal Police Offices (Landeskriminalämter), State Criminal Police Office of Lower Saxony (LKA Niedersachsen), various police departments (Dienststellen der Länderpolizeien), German Investigation Customs ( Zollfahndungsämter), Italy’s Finance Corps (Guardia di Finanza) and Public Prosecutor’s Office Brescia, the Netherland’s National Police (Politie), Switzerland’s Zurich Canton Police (Kantonspolizei Zürich) and Public Prosecutor’s Office II of the Canton of Zurich (Staatsanwaltschaft II), and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and NPCC.

Federal prosecutions are being conducted in more than 15 federal districts, including the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California, the District of Columbia, the Southern District of Florida, the District of Massachusetts, the District of Nebraska, the District of Nevada, the Western District of New York, the Southern District of Ohio, the Northern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the Western District of Virginia, the District of Rhode Island, the Western District of Tennessee, and the Western District of Washington.

JCODE is an FBI-led Department of Justice initiative, which supports, coordinates, and assists in de-confliction of investigations targeting for disruption and dismantlement of the online sale of illegal drugs, especially fentanyl and other opioids. JCODE also targets the trafficking of weapons and other illicit goods and services on the internet.

View documents and resources related to this announcement.

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DOJ’s Proposed 2022 Budget for Grant Funding Reveals Focus On Police Reform

Body cameras, anti-bias training and restrictions on police use of force are all items for proposed funding in DOJ’s FY22 budget

 


Story By Sarah Wilson for Lexipol | Police1.com

 

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved their funding bill in July for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. We spent some time going through the 168-page report to identify emerging trends for federal law enforcement grants in 2022.

Below are some highlights. Note: At the time of publication, the FY22 budget has not been approved by the Senate and therefore not signed by the president. A continuing resolution has been proposed to maintain continuity of service. Expect more to develop as the FY22 budget is finalized and as grants impacting law enforcement departments are released (typically in the spring).

JAG/COPS FUNDS: FOCUS ON IMPROVING POLICE PRACTICES

Perhaps the most obvious trend in FY22 proposed funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and COPS hiring grant is a focus on police reform. Both programs require jurisdictions to certify through the U.S. Attorney General that the jurisdiction satisfies nine key requirements “aimed at improving police practices.” These practices target issues including racial profiling, excessive force (including choke holds), “no-knock” warrants, and sexual contact between officers and people in their custody.

Several of the nine requirements make reference to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. As bipartisan talks on this legislation have broken down in the Senate, passage of the George Floyd Act looks unlikely at time of publication. Therefore, it’s unclear whether these requirements will be part of the final appropriations bill. Regardless, all agencies should be on notice that the administration is clearly seeking ways to encourage agencies to adopt common police reform measures and consider this when preparing grant funding requests.

Additional stipulations in the funding request also point to the DOJ’s interest in police reform. The bill requires each applicant’s Byrne JAG formula funds to be spent in the following ways:

  • 10% to develop and implement best practices to eliminate racial profiling, including training to prevent racial profiling and to encourage more respectful interaction with the public, the acquisition and use of technology to facilitate the accurate collection and analysis of data, the development and acquisition of feedback systems and technologies that identify officers or units of officers engaged in, or at risk of engaging in, racial profiling or other misconduct, and the establishment and maintenance of an administrative complaint procedure or independent auditor program
  • 5% to assist law enforcement agencies in attaining or maintaining accreditation from certified law enforcement accreditation organizations
  • 5% to study and implement effective management, training, recruiting, hiring, and oversight standards and programs to promote effective community and problem-solving strategies for law enforcement agencies
  • 5% to purchase or lease body-worn cameras; fund body-worn camera programs in order to deter excessive force or improve accountability, transparency and evidence collection; or implement policies or procedures consistent with requirements as described in section 382 of H.R. 1280

OTHER REFORM-MINDED FUNDING

JAG and COPS aren’t the only grant programs mentioned in the DOJ FY22 proposed budget, but as with the JAG and COPS funds, the focus is again on police reform and accountability measures. Highlights include:

  • $35 million for the competitive matching grant program for purchases of body-worn cameras and related expenses

  • $42 million to train law enforcement officers on racial profiling, implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force and the related duty to intervene, and procedural justice
  • $100 million to assist states in conducting “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement
  • $7.2 million to support state and local law enforcement in complying with reform efforts as a result of litigation including, but not limited to, consent decrees, out of court agreements, memoranda of understanding, findings, technical assistance, and recommendation letters from reform authorities
  • $250 million to assist in implementing statutes providing for independent investigation of law enforcement officers
  • $5 million for the National Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight, which is designed to coordinate the detection and referral of complaints regarding incidents of alleged law enforcement misconduct nationwide, in consultation with professional law enforcement associations, labor organizations, and community-based organizations
  • $5 million for continued development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind National Police Misconduct Registry, designed to serve as a central repository of data with respect to all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, to be compiled and maintained by the DOJ

ADDITIONAL GRANT PROGRAMS

The DOJ FY22 proposed budget isn’t only focused on police reform measures. For programs funded under the Violence Against Women Act, the bill provides $753 million an increase of 48% above fiscal year 2021. This includes new grant programs specifically for communities that are underrepresented and underserved, including the deaf and transgender communities.

For school safety, the bill provides $140 million, an increase of $15 million, to fund the STOP School Violence Act of 2018. In addition, the bill increases funding for other activities that will address school violence, including strong funding increases for youth mentoring grants and grants for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. The bill also funds a new program aimed at providing alternatives to incarceration for parents as well as juveniles.

The bill also proposes funding two grant programs aimed at developing new strategies to enhance police/community trust and reduce crime through community approaches. The Public Safety Innovation Grants program would receive $5 million for the development of best practices for, and the creation of, local task forces on public safety innovation. These task forces would be created from partnerships between community-based organizations and other local stakeholders to explore and develop innovative strategies to enhance just and equitable public safety, repair breaches of trust between law enforcement agencies and communities, and enhance officer accountability. And nearly $103 million is allocated for Byrne Discretionary Community Project Grants to prevent crime, improve the criminal justice system and provide victims’ services.

NEXT STEPS

The committee recommended further investigation and research into several emerging issues, including:

  • Access to mental health services for law enforcement

  • Technology-facilitated harassment
  • White supremacist infiltration in law enforcement

The next step in budget approval is the Senate’s appropriation bill approval. Stay tuned!

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Department of Justice Announces Department-Wide Policy on Chokeholds and ‘No-Knock’ Entries

New Policy Limits Circumstances in Which Federal Law Enforcement Can Use Chokeholds and “No-Knock” Entries.
 
The Department of Justice today announced written department-wide policies explicitly prohibiting the use of “chokeholds” and  “carotid restraints” unless deadly force is authorized, and limiting the circumstances in which the department’s federal law enforcement components are authorized to use unannounced entries. The announcement follows a review with the department’s law enforcement agencies led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
 
“Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability.”
 
“As members of federal law enforcement, we have a shared obligation to lead by example in a way that engenders the trust and confidence of the communities we serve,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “It is essential that law enforcement across the Department of Justice adhere to a single set of standards when it comes to ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ entries. This new policy does just that and limits the circumstances in which these techniques can be used.”
 
Under the new policy, the department’s law enforcement components will be prohibited from using “chokeholds” and “carotid restraints” unless deadly force is authorized, that is “when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”
 
Federal agents are generally required to “knock and announce” their identity, authority and purpose, and demand to enter before entry is made to execute a warrant in a private dwelling. However, there are some circumstances where unannounced entries are authorized.
 
The new policy generally limits the use of “no knock” entries in connection with the execution of a warrant to situations where an agent has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.
 
This new policy is narrower than what is permitted by law. In setting the policy this way, the department is limiting the use of higher-risk “no knock” entries to only those instances where physical safety is at stake. If an agent suspects a threat to physical safety and seeks a “no knock” warrant, the agent must first get supervisory approval from both a federal prosecutor as well as the agent’s law enforcement component.
 
The policy does recognize, however, that there may be rare circumstances when there is justification – other than physical safety – to execute a “no knock” entry.  If an exception is sought when there is no imminent threat of physical safety, the agent must first get approval from the head of the law enforcement component and the U.S. Attorney or relevant Assistant Attorney General before seeking judicial authorization for a “no knock” warrant.
 
For more information, see the Deputy Attorney General’s guidance to the Justice Department’s law enforcement components: https://www.justice.gov/dag/page/file/1432531/download
 
Today’s announcement expands on the department’s efforts to examine the way Justice Department law enforcement components engage with individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
 
See the Deputy Attorney General’s June 7, 2021, memo regarding Body Worn Cameras for the Justice Department’s federal law enforcement agents as well as the Sept. 1, 2021, announcement of the first Justice Department agents to implement BWCs: https://www.justice.gov/dag/page/file/1402061/download and https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-first-federal-agents-use-body-worn-cameras.

Justice Department Announces First Federal Agents to Use Body-Worn Cameras

Today, (September 1) the Department of Justice announced the launch of the first phase of its Body-Worn Camera Program that requires department law enforcement personnel use body-worn cameras (BWCs) during pre-planned law enforcement operations. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Phoenix and Detroit Field Divisions began using BWCs today during these pre-planned operations. Over the course of the next several weeks, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) will begin the first phase of their BWC programs. The department’s plans include a phased implementation of BWCs, and rely upon Congress to secure the necessary funding to equip agents nationwide with BWCs.

“Keeping our communities safe is a top priority for the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Law enforcement is at its most effective when there is accountability and trust between law enforcement and the community. That is why we have expanded our body worn camera program to our federal agents, to promote transparency and confidence, not only with the communities we serve and protect, but also among our state, local and Tribal law enforcement partners who work alongside our federal agents each day.”

“The Department of Justice recognizes the importance of transparency and accountability in its law enforcement operations,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Because there are circumstances where the use of force may occur during planned law enforcement operations, we are committed to the use of body-worn cameras by DOJ law enforcement agents in such circumstances. I am proud of the job performed by the department’s law enforcement agents, and I am confident that these policies will continue to engender the trust and confidence of the American people in the department’s work.”

“ATF welcomes the use of body worn cameras by our agents,” said Acting Director Marvin G. Richardson of the ATF. “The department’s policy reflects ATF’s commitment to transparency as we work to reduce firearm violence in our communities.”

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to the safety and security of the people we serve, our agents, and task force officers,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the DEA. “We welcome the addition of body worn cameras and appreciate the enhanced transparency and assurance they provide to the public and to law enforcement officers working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

“The FBI remains committed to meeting the need for transparency,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Phasing in the use of BWCs is another, important way for us to meet that need.”

“Every day USMS task forces lawfully apprehend violent criminals with the utmost professionalism,” said Director Donald Washington of the U.S. Marshals Service. “We continue striving to fortify the public’s trust in our responsibility to uphold the rule of law while keeping communities safe as we have for more than two centuries. Body worn cameras increase the transparency of law enforcement activities, and we will work to obtain the necessary resources to fully execute our body-worn camera program. As we do so, Deputy United States Marshals – along with thousands of local task force officers on USMS-led task forces – will continue to safeguard communities from violent criminals, drug traffickers and threats of terrorism. These interagency task force operations are crucial to public safety.” 

On June 7, based on recommendations from the Department’s law enforcement components, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco directed the ATF, DEA, FBI and USMS to develop individualized comprehensive policies that require agents to wear and activate BWC recording equipment for purposes of recording their actions during: (1) a pre-planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants; or (2) the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order. Consistent across each of these policies is a presumption that BWC recordings depicting conduct resulting in serious bodily injury or death of another will be released as soon as practical.   

The use of BWCs by federal agents builds upon the department’s October 2019 pilot program and October 2020 policy announcement to permit federally deputized task force officers to activate BWCs during these pre-planned law enforcement operations. Since October 2020, ATF, DEA, FBI and USMS have been integrating the use of BWCs on federal task forces around the nation. The department continues to encourage participating task force agencies to contact the sponsoring federal agency for more information about their BWC program.

Justice Department to Provide Funding for Body-Worn Cameras to Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

The Justice Department announced today that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is releasing $7.65 million in a competitive microgrant grant solicitation that will fund body-worn cameras (BWCs) to any law enforcement department with 50 or fewer full-time sworn personnel, rural agencies (those agencies within non-urban or non-metro counties); and federally-recognized Tribal agencies.

“The Justice Department is committed to providing law enforcement with valuable resources to increase accountability and build trust with the communities they serve,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today we encourage all small, rural and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding for this important tool that will enhance protection for both officers and citizens.”

“The grant solicitation today will help law enforcement agencies and their communities improve evidentiary outcomes, and enhance the safety of, and improve interactions between, officers and the public,” said Acting Director Kristen Mahoney of BJA. “Importantly, this grant program will make it easier for small, rural and Tribal law enforcement agencies to apply for funding. It’s an online application that will streamline the grant process for these agencies.”

Funds must be used to purchase or lease body-worn cameras and may include expenses reasonably related to BWC program implementation. Funding can be used to support pilot BWC programs, establish new BWC implementation or expand existing programs.

BJA has selected Justice & Security Strategies Inc. to administer the grant program through a cooperative agreement. For more information and to apply, please visit https://www.srtbwc.com. All applications are due by August 31, 2021.

Agencies interested in body-worn camera funding that do not meet the eligibility criteria for small, rural and Tribal as described in the microgrant solicitation should note that the FY 2021 Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement Agencies grant solicitation is currently open. That solicitation will close on July 12, 2021. The anticipated total amount to be awarded under that solicitation is $27.5 million.

Today’s announcement follows Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco’s recent memo  to the department’s law enforcement components directing them to develop and submit for review their plans for BWC policies that require agents to wear and activate BWC recording equipment for purposes of recording their actions during: (1) a pre-planned attempt to serve an arrest warrant or other pre-planned arrest, including the apprehension of fugitives sought on state and local warrants; or (2) the execution of a search or seizure warrant or order. The Deputy Attorney General will work with the department’s law enforcement components in the coming weeks to review their policies and finalize implementation plans. 

For resources to support the development and implementation of body-worn camera programs, the Department of Justice has created a Body-Worn Camera Tool Kit.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance helps to make American communities safer by strengthening the nation’s criminal justice system. BJA’s grants, cooperative agreements, training and technical assistance and policy development services provide state, local and Tribal governments with the cutting-edge tools and best practices they need to reduce violent and drug-related crime, support law enforcement and combat victimization.

BJA is a component of the Office of Justice ProgramsU.S. Department of Justice. The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov

Missouri governor, AG Send Defiant Response to Justice Department Over Gun Law

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Missouri Governor Mike Parson

 
Story By Summer Ballentine (Associated Press)​ for ​KSDK

Missouri’s Republican governor and attorney general said in a defiant letter to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday that they stand by the state’s new law that would ban police from enforcing federal gun rules.

Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote that they still plan to enforce the new law, which Parson signed Saturday. The measure would penalize local police departments if their officers​​ enforce federal gun laws.

Schmitt and Parson wrote that they will “fight tooth and nail” to defend the right to own guns as spelled out in the state constitution and the new law.

“We will not tolerate any attempts by the federal government to deprive Missourians of this critical civil right,” they wrote.

In a letter sent Wednesday night and obtained by The Associated Press, Justice Department officials pointed out that federal law trumps state law under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Brian Boynton, an acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in the letter that Missouri’s law threatens to disrupt the working relationship between federal and local law enforcement and noted that the state receives federal grants and technical assistance.

Prosecutors in Missouri’s attorney general’s office have already withdrawn from nearly two dozen federal drug, gun and carjacking cases in St. Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. They had been working with federal counterparts as part of the Safer Streets initiative that Schmitt touted in 2019. Attorneys from Schmitt’s office were deputized as assistant U.S. attorneys to help prosecute violent crimes.

Missouri’s new law would subject law enforcement agencies with officers who knowingly enforce federal gun laws to a fine of about $50,000 per violating officer.

Boynton said Missouri’s law “conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulation” and that federal law would supersede the state’s new statute. He said federal agents and the U.S. attorney’s offices in the state would continue to enforce all federal firearms laws and regulations. He asked that Parson and Schmitt clarify the law and how it would work in a response by Friday.

Republican lawmakers who pushed Missouri’s new law said they were motivated by the potential for more restrictive gun laws under Democratic President Joe Biden. But state Democrats argued that it is unconstitutional and would likely get overturned if challenged in court.

Similar bills were introduced in more than a dozen other states this year, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary.

Several states passed similar laws under then-president Barack Obama, though judges have ruled against them.