Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday afternoon promised to give leaders of some of the nation’s largest police groups advance notice of future investigations into local departments, sources involved in the meeting told The Washington Times.
But Mr. Garland cautioned that the tip-off would only come in cases where he could give a heads-up. He warned attendees that because of the sensitive nature of the investigations, he may not always be able to notify the groups ahead of a public announcement, sources told The Times.
Mr. Garland also told attendees he expects the Justice Department will launch additional probes into local police departments but did not offer specifics.
The meeting comes after some of the groups privately complained they were blindsided by the Justice Department’s announcement about the investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was Mr. Garland‘s first meeting with law enforcement groups since being sworn in as attorney general last month.
Leaders from the Fraternal Order of Police, National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives were among those who attended the meeting.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also attended the meeting, according to sources.
The meeting, which started at 1 p.m. and lasted about an hour, was described as cordial and very successful. One source said the meeting reinforced hopes that discussions over disagreements between police organizations and the Biden administration will be civil and productive.
Another source described the meeting as “very friendly,” describing the discussions as “very general.”
Other topics discussed included brief remarks about qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits, and making more grant money available to local departments. Both topics were briefly touched upon, sources said.
The investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department follows this week’s jury verdict that former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. It will assess whether the department uses excessive force, including during last year’s racial-justice protests, and engages in discriminatory conduct.
Investigators from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division have already spoken with police officers and potential victims in the city, Mr. Garland said this week, adding he hopes for “broad” public participation.