The Department of Justice announced they are launching a civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police Department. The investigation is to determine whether the police engage in a pattern or practice of violations to the constitutional law. More specifically, they will be looking into the department’s use of excessive force and engagement in discriminatory practices against people of color.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said this is the first statewide pattern or practice investigation of a law enforcement agency in more than two decades. This case comes after an overwhelming number of reports of police misconduct including the use of racial slurs and the use of fatal force. Clarke said incident reports, body camera footage and police supervision records will be reviewed.
“If violations are found, then we will aim to work cooperatively with the state to reach an agreement on the best remedies. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Justice Department is authorized to bring a civil lawsuit, seeking injunctive relief to address the violations,” said Clarke via press conference.
More on the investigation from the Department of Justice:
The investigation is being conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law. The statute allows the Department to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation. The Department will be assessing law enforcement practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The investigation is separate from any federal criminal investigation of LSP troopers.
US Attorney Ronald C. Gathe Jr. for the Middle District of Louisiana said he’s seen crime reach unthinkable heights in the past 20 years but also a decrease in trust in Louisiana policing.
“We do not have to sacrifice the ability of the government to solve crimes in order to uphold an individual’s rights. Protecting the individual rights while protecting individuals from crime is the cornerstone of our justice system and democracy,” he said.
Last year, the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab collected 400 complaints of police misconduct and filed 30 cases against police officers. After the fatal arrest of motorist Ronald Greene and repeated incidents of Black men being beaten during traffic stops, it was time action was taken toward police accountability.
The DOJ encourages anyone with relevant information to contact them via email at Community.Louisiana@usdoj.gov or by phone at (202) 353-0684.