U.S. Justice Department Launches Investigation into Phoenix Police Practices

The United States Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the policing practices of the Phoenix Police Department and the city of Phoenix, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Aug. 5.

According to Garland, the investigation will assess if the Phoenix Police Department uses excessive force, if it engages in discriminatory policing, and if it retaliates against protesters.

Garland also said that the investigation will examine if the Phoenix Police Department improperly responds to people with disabilities and if it violates the rights of the homeless by seizing and disposing of their property.

“When we conduct pattern or practice investigations to determine whether the Constitution or federal law has been violated, our aim is to promote transparency and accountability. This increases public trust, which in turn increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals,” Garland said.

The investigation comes as Phoenix Police face lawsuits and complaints over their response to Black Lives Matters protests last year. One lawsuit alleged that the police filed false felony charges against protesters who gathered to the streets in May 2020 after the police fatally shot Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old Black man.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego welcomed the investigation in a statement on Twitter, saying that comprehensive police reform “has been my priority since the first day I took office.”

“The recommendations that will result from this review will assist us in our ongoing efforts to become an even safer, stronger, more equitable city,” Gallego said.

The investigation into Phoenix comes as the third pattern of practice investigation by the Justice Department under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Last April, the Justice Department launched investigations into the police departments in Minneapolis City after the death of George Floyd and of Louisville City after the death of Breonna Taylor.

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