Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the Justice Department will investigate the City of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Phoenix Police Department over allegations of excessive force and abuse, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
The new Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, known as “pattern or practice,” will determine if police officers in Phoenix have used unconstitutionally excessive force, engaged in unlawful policing and abused homeless people, according to The AP. (RELATED: Justice Department Announces Wide-Ranging Investigation Into Minneapolis Police Department After Chauvin Conviction)
BREAKING: DOJ OPENING INVESTIGATION INTO PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR EXCESSIVE FORCE, DISCRIMINATION, FIRST AND FOURTH AMENDMENT, AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES pic.twitter.com/Waf4Aj0qbz
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) August 5, 2021
Investigators will review body camera video, training materials and other records, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke said, according to The AP. Clarke said Phoenix city officials supported the probe, The AP reported.
Garland said the examination will determine if police have engaged in discriminatory practices and if officers retaliated against people practicing the right to the First Amendment, according to The AP. The Phoenix police department shot 26 people in 2020, killing 11, according to The Arizona Republic.
This is the Biden administration’s third civil-rights investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Biden administration has made it a priority to overhaul local police agencies after the high-profile killings of blacks and minorities have sparked national protests.
“This is the third pattern or practice or investigation I have announced as attorney general,” Garland said at a news conference Thursday. “Each time, I have noted that these investigations aim to promote transparency and accountability. This increases public trust, which in turn, increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals.”
The DOJ also announced this year investigations into police forces in Minneapolis, Minnesota, following George Floyd’s death, and in Louisville, Kentucky, after Breonna Taylor died in March 2020. Taylor’s death spurred a DOJ probe into the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine if there is a pattern of discrimination or excessive force within its ranks.