Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced a pattern and practice investigation into the Louisiana State Police Department. According to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, it’s the first statewide investigation of this kind in more than two decades.
“Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark in a statement. “The Justice Department stands ready to use every tool in our arsenal to confront allegations of misconduct and to ensure legitimacy during encounters with law enforcement.”
Why is the Louisiana State police under investigation?
The pattern and practice investigation follows troopers killing Ronald Greene, and others busted after joking about brutalizing a Black driver. Both incidents suggested a broader pattern and practice of brutality within the Northeast division at the very least.
During the press conference, Clark said the investigation involved the state police and the state of Louisiana. She noted reports of “unwarranted” force for mostly minor-traffic incidents. Clark was joined by all three U.S. attorneys serving the state. She put the investigation in context, noting that Louisiana has the second-highest Black population in the country by percentage.
What gives the DOJ the authority to pursue a pattern and practice investigation?
Commonly known as the 1994 Crime bill, the Violent Control and Law Enforcement Act provided a mechanism for holding police departments somewhat accountable. Also, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division can leverage civil litigation to address misconduct.
Generally, the primary scope of the investigations involves whether law enforcement deprived “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 and the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
What does a pattern and practice investigation entail?
As noted above, a pattern and practice investigation is civic. The scope and possible remedies also vary based on the issues alleged. The Louisiana inquiry is a comprehensive look at all aspects of policing by the state.
It will also include policies and practices of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. The state police fall within the purview of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
As explained in the announcement, the focus will be on whether the state police use excessive force and whether law enforcement engages in racially discriminatory policing. This is the fifth pattern and practice investigation since the start of the Biden administration and the 75th such investigation since Congress established the practice in the mid-1990s.
Also, the Lousiana pattern and practice investigation “will include a comprehensive review of LSP policies, training, supervision, and force investigations, as well as LSP’s systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline.”
Louisiana State Police Facing Broad DOJ Investigation was originally published on newsone.com