One day after the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced that the U.S. Justice Department would now be launching a full investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, looking into possible patterns of discrimination and use of excessive force among officers working within the unit.
Carrie Johnson of NPR has reported that this would be the first civil inquiry of its kind launched under the Biden administration, “which has pledged to build trust between police and communities.”
“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 as he announced the new probe. “[The April 20] verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.”
Garland added that this new investigation “will look at the use of excessive force, including during protests, and examine the Minneapolis Police Department’s accountability systems.”
“If the Justice Department concludes that there’s reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, we will issue a public report of our conclusions,” he said.
This new federal examination of the Minneapolis Police Department is separate from a previously announced federal inquiry into the death of George Floyd, which is still ongoing according to Johnson.
In an interview with NPR, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he sees the inquiry as “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.”
Johnson also reported that Garland’s investigation “marks a return to increased federal oversight of errant police departments.” While the Trump administration only conducted one such examination of a small police force in Massachusetts over its four years, there were more than two dozen investigations during the eight years of the Obama administration.