(USA Features) In a move reminiscent of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice under President Joe Biden will launch an expansive probe into the Minneapolis Police Department’s “pattern and practice” procedures regarding the operation of its officers.
The announcement comes a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd.
“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial doesn’t address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis. Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.
Garland said the investigation will focus on whether the department uses excessive force to include during last year’s rioting and violence, engages in conduct that is discriminatory, and treatment of suspects with behavioral health issues.
The AG said that investigators from the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division have already held discussions with Minneapolis police officers and potential victims in the city, who added he would like to see “broad” public participation.
Ultimately, the department will issue a report on its findings.
During the Obama administration, local police departments that were subjected to similar investigations often entered into consent decree arrangements with the Justice Department, which gave federal authorities oversight over them for years.
Such agreements have long been supported by civil rights activists who say they help prevent bad police behavior.
But the Trump administration backed off using the decrees because officials argued that they hamstrung officers and prevented them from effectively doing their jobs.
In 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo dramatically curtailing the use of consent decrees.
The Minneapolis PD investigation of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death began under then-Attorney General William Barr, the Washington Times reported.