KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One day after a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on murder charges, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
The investigation is a called a “pattern or practice investigation” and will focus on the police department as a whole instead of individual officers.
“The investigation I am announcing today will asses whether the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference Wednesday.
Criminal defense attorney David Grummon, who serves on the board of directors for MORE2, a Kansas City metro social justice organization, said believes pattern or practice investigations are useful.
“The goal is to have more public trust in law enforcement,” Grummon said. “It needs to be earned trust, not just bamboozling people into trust or getting them apathetically to accept some level of trust. Law enforcement needs to be trustworthy and that’s the goal of these investigations and these ongoing supervisions.”
The DOJ initiated a similar investigation in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. In March 2016, the city and the DOJ entered into a consent decree.
Pattern or practice investigations are civil and allow the DOJ to sue any law enforcement agency that engages in patterns or practices of unconstitutional conduct.
If the DOJ finds constitutional violations, it can sue the police department or city for equitable relief. A federal judge would then determine whether the police department should stop a specific practice.
Most cases, according to Grummon, result in consent decrees where police departments agree to reform their practices.
“You need that kind of federal outside oversight to look into this because local and state governments don’t seem very well equipped to do it effectively,” Grummon said.