U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has launched an investigation into the whether Ferguson, Missouri police department has “engaged in systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law.”
In addition to the Justice Department’s “ongoing criminal civil rights investigation,” Holder announced Thursday that the department’s Civil Rights Division also opened a probe into allegations of “unlawful policing” by Ferguson cops.
“In Ferguson, our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force,” Holder said at a press conference, according to his prepared remarks. “It will analyse stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that are brought to light.”
Ferguson was the center of weeks of racially charged protests last month after an African-American teen, Michael Brown, was killed in a police encounter on Aug. 9. Activists accused the local police of racial bias and Holder said his department would investigate those very claims.
Holder also announced the Justice Department was working to reform the broader St. Louis County Police Department, which was involved in the militarized crackdown on the protests.
“Because St. Louis County administers training programs for officers throughout the area — including members of the Ferguson Police Department — it makes sense to include the county police department as part of our comprehensive approach to confronting the challenges we’ve seen in that region,” Holder said.
Holder described the move as part of his efforts to keep his promise “to stand with the people there long after the national headlines had faded.”
“This won’t always be easy,” he added. “But I know that, together, we can and will meet this challenge.”
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