Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s concerns about a presidential policing panel were backed up by a federal judge’s order Thursday that ended the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.
Choi, who resigned from the panel Sept. 3 in a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, initially raised wide-ranging concerns in a letter to the commission in May.
He stated reservations about a lack of public engagement and questioned how the commission would respond to racial disparities. “What I was trying to communicate was that we needed to listen to those who have been negatively impacted by policing and the criminal justice system,” Choi wrote to Barr.
But he received no response from the commission, Choi wrote to Barr.
In resigning, Choi said he had “grown increasingly concerned that the final report will only widen the divisions in our nation. To avoid this, the effort should have engaged with our communities around bridging this divide, but it is now clear to me that was never the intended goal.”
Rather than examine how decades of over-policing in communities of color have created a deficit of trust, the commission was instead encouraged to study “underenforcement” of criminal laws and “refusals by state and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes.”
The NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund sued in April to stop the work of the commission on the grounds that it violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, designed to ensure such commissions are accountable to Congress and the public.
The NAACP lawsuit said the commission was composed exclusively of law enforcement officials. It contended the commission denied the public access by refusing to provide notice of meetings or access to documents.
The commission was expected to produce a package of law enforcement proposals before the Nov. 3 election. U.S. District Judge John Bates, based in Washington, D.C., said no proposals should be produced by the illegal commission. Bates was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2001.