US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will open an investigation into the practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) following the death of Breonna Taylor.
Garland noted his department’s unique awareness of the challenges faced by those serving as police officers. Despite their commitment to service, Garland stated that the role of the DOJ is to ensure that the federal statutory rights of all people are protected. Through congressional authorization, the DOJ has the power to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations to help fulfill its responsibility to the people.
The primary function of the investigation is to determine if the LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division conducted an extensive review of publicly available information prior to recommending the investigation.
Specifically, the investigation will look at LMPD’s use of force including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities. It will also seek to determine if the LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures. Additionally, the investigation will consider whether the LMPD unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes. The DOJ will also assess whether the LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race.
The investigation will include an extensive review of the LMPD’s policies and training and the effectiveness of officer supervision and accountability systems. A public report will be released if the DOJ uncovers a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations. The DOJ will also attempt to work with the city of Louisville and the police department to reach a set of mutually agreeable steps that can be taken to correct any violations. However, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the DOJ has the authority to address any violations through a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief.