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Community leaders call on Justice Department to step up police investigations


Last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced pattern or practice investigations against the Louisville and Minneapolis Metro Police Departments following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in March and May 2020, respectively. . These investigations – which can result in court-ordered consent decrees – came after four years of silence from the previous administration over police accountability.

Since the announcements, the Westchester County District Attorney in New York City and the Mayor of Columbus, Ohio, have called on Garland and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to focus their attention on their municipalities.

Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah on Friday called on the Justice Department to step in to investigate the Mount Vernon Police Department after her office’s criminal investigation found “disturbing allegations of behavior inappropriate and potentially illegal on the part of many former and current members of the police service. “

Rocah’s investigation came after a year-long Gothamist / WNYC investigation where a series of tapes made by a whistleblower revealed a narcotics unit within the department.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther on Wednesday issued the Justice Department’s call for a crackdown. Ginther said in a letter he is calling on the Justice Department to release findings that assess the police service’s current reform efforts, assess its operations, come up with remedies to address deficiencies, and “create an environment which promotes trust between the Police Division and the residents of the City of Columbus. “

A coalition of dozens of Ohio-based organizations, including the American Economic Liberties Project, co-signed a letter Thursday to Garland and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, saying the city’s settlement with the Department of Justice in 2002 “was clearly insufficient”.

“The problems of policing go far beyond the killings, although these are very tragic and horrific, but it is the routine harassment that many blacks have suffered in the community during almost all of the years. this story, “Morgan Harper, senior economic freedoms adviser, told CNN on Monday. “And so this coalition, in addition to making a formal request to the DOJ, also gives the community members the opportunity to come in and tell their stories of coming into contact with the police who felt discriminated against.”

CNN has contacted the Justice Department for comment.

During Garland’s announcements to the Louisville and Minneapolis Police Departments, he said designated prosecutors would connect with members of the community for information.

Christopher 2X, the founder of Game Changers in Louisville, told CNN on Monday that federal prosecutors contacted him immediately after Garland’s announcement on April 26 about a “wide range of subjects” but mostly struggles ” that young people have with the police. ”

Christopher 2X also told CNN he referred Justice Department prosecutors to families of previous police brutality cases.

He says he was told their conversations “could last a year.”

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