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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday reversed a Trump-era policy limiting the use of consent decrees to force changes at police departments and government agencies accused of misconduct.

Why it matters: The move comes in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. It also comes "as the Justice Department shifts its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies," AP notes.

What he's saying: "This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce," Garland said in a statement, the Washington Post.

  • "Together, we will continue the Department’s legacy of promoting the rule of law, protecting the public, and working collaboratively with state and local governmental entities to meet those ends,” Garland added in a memo to U.S. attorneys and DOJ officials Friday.

Background: In one of his final moves as attorney general in 2018, Jeff Sessions issued a memo that restricted the ability of local U.S. attorneys to enter into consent decree settlements.

  • Several civil rights investigations during the Obama administration ended in court-approved consent decrees, including with police departments in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, per AP.

Go deeper: Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Go deeper

Updated Apr 15, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Daunte Wright protests reignite debate over police response to unrest

Police in riot gear toss a projectile at protesters in Brooklyn Park on April 11. Photo: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ongoing protests over Daunte Wright's death have renewed debate over the tactics police use to control crowds and respond to civil unrest.

Driving the news: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a fourth straight night in Brooklyn Center Wednesday. Law enforcement used flash-bang grenades and pepper balls to disperse the crowd as a 10 p.m. curfew set in.

The state of play: Law enforcement officials say the tactics are necessary to restore order and protect residents and property when peaceful protests begin to devolve, but activists in Minnesota and beyond say the "militarized" response is overly aggressive, dangerous and actually risks inciting more violence.

Tamir Rice's family urges DOJ to reopen investigation of police killing

Demonstrators gather outside of The Justice Center on Dec. 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio to protest after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice. Photo: Angelo Merendino via Getty Images

The family of Tamir Rice, the Black 12-year-old fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, is asking President Biden's Justice Department to reopen the federal probe into his death.

Why it matters: Former Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice, never faced charges. The Rice family's request comes amid outrage over the police killing of Daunte Wright earlier this week, Derek Chauvin's ongoing trial and the release of footage on Thursday showing the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.