The U.S. Justice Department announced an investigation into possible patterns of discrimination and excessive force in its police department.
Attorney General Merrick Garland says the investigation was the first such “pattern or practice” investigation in the Biden administration.
The investigation will be separate from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights probe, announced after Floyd’s death, which will review policies, procedures and practices over the past ten years and whether the department engaged in systemic discrimination.
“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,” Garland said in remarks at the Justice Department.
News of the probe came just a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey welcomed the probe, which will be reviewing whether the department’s current practices violate the Constitution or federal civil rights laws. He told NPR that it is “an opportunity to continue working towards that deep change and accountability that we know that we need in the Minneapolis Police Department, and so to the extent the DOJ can help with that we very much welcome.”
Garland says he still believes in the integrity of the department.
“I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices,” he said. “Accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community, and public safety requires public trust.”
However, not everybody is happy about the news.
Black Visions, a group that supports the movement to defund the Minneapolis police, dismissed the Justice Department’s announcement as a “distraction.”
“The police investigating themselves will never result in needed changes to truly provide public safety to the people of Minneapolis and greater Minnesota,” said spokesperson Kennedy-Ezra Kastle. “The MPD has shown the public and community time and time again that they do not care about the safety of Black people or the larger community.”