Biden’s Justice Department Goes After Police Misconduct
The deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, figured prominently in last year’s nationwide protests against police abuse. In April, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced investigations into the police departments of both cities.
The announcements signaled that the Justice Department under President Joe Biden was revving up its Civil Rights Division to investigate systemic police misconduct. That effort represents a sharp turnaround from the DOJ under President Donald Trump, which insisted that the problem with American policing was limited to a few bad apples.
The Obama administration launched 25 of these “pattern-or-practice” investigations, meant to determine whether a police department routinely violates federal law or the Constitution. The Civil Rights Division issued scathing reports on widespread misconduct, excessive force, and unconstitutional policing in cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, and Ferguson, Missouri. The investigations often led to court-enforced settlements, known as “consent decrees,” that mandated policy changes.
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