By William McCurry
LOUISVILLE, KY- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced Monday that the Department of Justice has opened a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department.
LMPD has been brought into the national spotlight since the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a raid on her apartment in March 2020.
The investigation is going to be thorough and cover all types of force used by the LMPD officers, including the use of force on individuals with behavioral mental disabilities and individuals engaged in activities protected by their First Amendment, said Garland.
The investigation will also cover whether LMPD engages in discriminatory policing and whether it conducts unreasonable stops, seizures, and arrests both during patrol activities in obtaining and executing search warrants in private homes.
The investigation will include a comprehensive review of LMPD’s policies, training, and supervision, as well as LMPD’s systems of accountability including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline.
Attorney General Garland states “there are 18,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in this country. In each one, dedicated officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect others.”
The AG adds, “promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer. Our enforcement efforts, as well as our grant-making and other support, will contribute to achieving that end and to protecting the civil rights of everyone in our county.”
The Department of Justice informed Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, LMPD Chief Erika Shields, County Attorney Mike O’Connell and Louisville Metro Council President David James of the investigation. As part of the investigation, the Department of Justice will reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with LMPD.
“The Constitution and federal law require law enforcement officers to treat all people fairly and equitably, regardless of race, disability, or participation in protected First Amendment activities,” said Pamela S Karlan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“The investigation we are announcing today will examine whether these laws are being violated, while also analyzing the root causes of any violations we may find,” added Karlan.
The investigation is being conducted in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law. The act allows the Department of Justice to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation.
The Department of Justice will be looking at law enforcement practices under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Safe Streets Act of 1968 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The inquiry is the second pattern or practice investigation launched by the Department of Justice recently. Last week, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into policing in Minneapolis, less than 24 hours after Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd.
William McCurry is a fourth year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.
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