California AG Rob Bonta turns state Justice Department’s focus to policing, racial justice


A month after taking over as California attorney general, Rob Bonta has put the Department of Justice on a hard pivot, launching a series of initiatives to refocus the agency on problems inside the state after it spent four years fighting the Trump administration on national issues.

In the last few weeks, Bonta has announced the creation of a Racial Justice Bureau to combat hate crimes and biased policing, financial help to local law enforcement agencies struggling with a backlog of untested rape evidence kits and expanded the Bureau of Environmental Justice to better target polluters.

Bonta has also taken action to make the department more transparent, reversing a prior policy that had withheld some records on police officer misconduct, and he set aside a Justice Department proposal to withhold gun enforcement data from researchers. The new attorney general also says he is working on the creation of a new unit to investigate fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians.

Bonta’s barrage of proposals comes after more cautious and slow starts on state issues by his predecessors Xavier Becerra and Kamala Harris, who is now the vice president. Becerra’s early days were mostly spent announcing lawsuits against the Trump administration.

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