Katie Benner, New York Times, April 21, 2021
The Justice Department will investigate the policies and operations of the Minneapolis Police Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Wednesday, a day after the former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd in a rare rebuke of police violence.
Such investigations are often the precursors to court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create and enforce a road map for training and operational changes.
The inquiry into the department is separate from the existing Justice Department investigation into whether Mr. Chauvin violated Mr. Floyd’s civil rights. It will be led by lawyers and staff in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota.
Investigators will seek to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests; whether it engages in discriminatory conduct; and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful. They will also review the department’s policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations, and whether its current systems of accountability are effective at ensuring that police officers act lawfully.
If the investigators find that the police department has engaged in unlawful policing, Mr. Garland said the Justice Department would issue a public report. It also has the option to bring a civil suit against the department and enter into a settlement agreement, or consent decree, to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken to bring the department’s practices into compliance with the law.