It’s often nice to receive mail at Christmas, and the folks at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice are well aware of that. DOJ sent a letter earlier this month to Alabama law enforcement informing them that DOJ is going to be kind of like Santa… in the sense that DOJ will be watching to see if Alabama law enforcement agencies are naughty or nice.
That’s sort of in the Christmas spirit, right?
“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is closely monitoring the impact of HB56 in a number of areas to ensure compliance with applicable civil rights laws, including to ensure that law enforcement agencies are not implementing the law in a manner that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against the Latino or any other community,” the letter, dated Dec. 2, said. “We are also very concerned about the impact of HB56 on victims of crime, in particular in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
The letter was written by Tom Perez, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. It was addressed to the heads of various law enforcement agencies in the state that receive federal funds, including to Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. The letter noted that federal funds could be pulled if police officers, sheriff’s deputies or others misbehave.
“As a recipient of federal financial assistance, your agency is required to comply with various non-discrimination requirements under federal statutes and regulations…“ Perez wrote, naming several pieces of legislation. “The federal government may, in some circumstances, terminate federal funds or bring a civil lawsuit in federal court seeking affirmative relief to enforce” those federal statutes and regulations.
According to Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian, the JeffCo Sheriff’s Department got the message.
“We have relied on federal funding in the form of grants and appropriations a great deal over the years and even more so during these difficult financial times,” Christian wrote in an e-mail statement to Weld. “We are going to work hard to insure we do not jeopardize that now and in the future.”