WASHINGTON, D.C. (WITI) -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke testified on Thursday, January 29th before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He was invited by Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. The hearing was part of the confirmation process for the next Attorney General of the United States, Loretta Lynch.
Sheriff Clarke did not speak specifically about Lynch or her credentials during his testimony -- saying only that he "wishes her well." Instead, he used his time before the committee to talk about the importance of the relationship between the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement.
Clarke indicated in his statement that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder helped fuel the fire of "hostility toward local law enforcement."
"Unfortunately, race is, has been, and will always be an explosive issue in America. The incendiary rhetoric used by (former AG) Eric Holder created a pathway for the false narrative that then became the rallying cry for cop haters across America, and sparked unjustified hatred toward America's law enforcement agencies agencies and officers," Sheriff Clarke said.
Clarke said, "Inflammatory language about racism, racist cops and racial profiling by police was used in public statements by Attorney General Eric Holder, as he shared his personal anecdotal accounts of being racially profiled by police in the past." Sheriff Clarke also told lawmakers "a broad brush has been used to unfairly malign the reputation of the profession of policing in the United States."
Clarke and other panelists criticized Holder's tenure, which was a little more than Senator Sheldon Whitehouse could take, as he quoted George Washington.
"Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust. There are plenty of forums where the Attorney General would have an opportunity to defend himself. This is not one," Senator Whitehouse said.
Clarke said in his testimony that the job of the next U.S. Attorney General should be to "articulate clearly, a renewed commitment to rebuilding trust with local law enforcement."
Sheriff Clarke also used his time before the committee to urge federal lawmakers to resist the urge to interfere with local police training standards. He indicated he would "resist attempts by the USDOJ to dictate one-size-fits-all" training standards. He said, "Every community is unique in what will work and what will not work."
In speaking about future policy, Sheriff Clarke cautioned against certain reforms to reduce prison populations or alter sentencing.
"The recidivist nature of criminals will cause more minorities to be victimized by violence, similar to what happened this past summer in Milwaukee to Sierra Guyton, a 10-year-old girl shot in the head and killed while on a school playground. The shooters were career criminals," Sheriff Clarke said.
Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, is President Barack Obama's pick to succeed Eric Holder at the helm of the Justice Department, a post that has increasingly become fraught with political controversies and clouded by Holder and Congress' mutual contempt for each other.
Barring any surprises, Lynch is likely to be confirmed -- rejecting her means Republicans would continue the tenure of Holder, whom many in the GOP have pushed to resign.
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