ACLU Links Drug War to Police Brutality

THE American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for a halt to rhetoric about a ``war on drugs,'' saying it encourages police brutality. The group called for federal legislation giving the Department of Justice authority to seek court orders against police departments with a pattern of abuse, and for independent civilian commissions to monitor abuse.

ACLU executive director Ira Glasser told reporters Tuesday that police brutality is an ``endemic situation'' requiring ``a systematic remedy.''

Darrel Stephens, a former Newport News, Va., police chief who now heads the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization of 200 city police chiefs, said he doubts police brutality is endemic.

Mr. Glasser said longer sentences for criminals and political rhetoric have done little to address the underlying causes of crime, such as unemployment and poor education.

Glasser called on Congress to give the Department of Justice authority to sue individual police departments that have repeated incidents of police abuse, and to tie federal funding to the adoption of local reforms such as independent civilian oversight commissions.

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