The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has opened an investigation into the Worcester (MA) Police Department. According to the DOJ, this civil investigation will assess whether the department engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force or engages in discriminatory policing based on race or sex.
The investigation will include a comprehensive review of policies, procedures, trainings, investigatory files, and data.
The investigation will also include a review of the department’s systems of accountability, including its systems to address misconduct complaints and discipline. The DOJ will also evaluate how the officers interact with the public, collect evidence, and complete investigations.
“Based on information provided to the Justice Department, we find significant justification to investigate whether the Worcester Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of racially discriminatory and gender-biased policing, and uses excessive force,” says Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The investigation is being conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law. The statute allows the department to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation.
The Justice Department will be assessing law enforcement practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.