FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Community leaders are calling for a far-reaching plan overseen by a federal judge to radically reform the Fort Worth Police Department to address the kinds of abuses they say contributed to an officer’s fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in her home early Saturday morning.
Pastor Kyev Tatum was among those gathered Wednesday to announce they’re asking the U.S. Department of Justice for a court-monitored plan known as a consent decree.
Tatum says attempts to work with city leaders have not been satisfactory, so “it’s time for somebody else to take control.”
He started pushing for a consent decree last summer after another officer-involved shooting.
The shooting death of Jefferson, 28, has given that idea more momentum as the group of community and religious leaders said it does not see Fort Worth making major changes on its own.
“It says we sit at a table of reasonableness,” said Tatum. “Come up with a reasonable solution to this. And allow a court to monitor us, through a monitor and the federal court. When you do that it says you’re committed to long term restoration in our community.”
The group wants the Fort Worth Police Department to be under the same federal scrutiny given to police departments in New Orleans, Chicago and Baltimore.
“It’s time for somebody else to take control of putting in the right mechanisms to hold the city of Fort Worth and our Fort Worth Police Department accountable when they break local state and federal laws.”
“The question is, is it really systemic?,” said criminologist Alex del Carmen who has worked as a federal monitor in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. “And, is a consent decree, absolutely necessary, and, is there any other option for a police department to be reformed.”
The case has made international news and the Justice Department is aware of it.
Whether the department believes Fort Worth needs oversight is another question.
Any such bid could be harder to achieve than ever before given the animosity the Trump administration has shown toward consent degrees, which they say have too often tied the hands of officers while imposing burdensome costs.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)