Civil Rights

Merrick Garland Isn’t Wasting Any Time

Written by SK Ashby

Attorney General Merrick Garland recently rolled back the Trump-era ban on investigations of local police departments imposed by former Attorney General William Barr and Garland announced an investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department within weeks of that announcement.

I expected the investigation of the Minneapolis police would be just the first of more investigations to come, but I did not expect the next investigation would be announced within a week.

Garland has now authorized a pattern or practice investigation of the Louisville, Kentucky police department.

“Promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer,” Garland said in a brief appearance at the Justice Department. [...]

Garland said the new inquiry “will be taken with one goal in mind: to ensure policing policies and practices are constitutional and lawful. That is the same goal of our investigation into Minneapolis and of every pattern or practice investigation that the department undertakes.”

It has been 10 years since I lived within the Louisville viewing area, but having lived for the 26 years I can say I expect the Justice Department's investigation of the LMPD will find many bad things. The killing of Breonna Taylor in her own home was especially shocking to the public but, as this investigation implies, her killing was just part of a pattern older than Taylor was when they killed her.

Merrick Garland clearly isn't timid or intimidated by police unions or their mouthpieces. And he shouldn't be. Public opinion is very clearly on the side of victims.

Police departments clearly can't or won't police themselves and it's up to the Department of Justice to do it. The department can't investigate every police force in the country, but they may not need to if they make a proper example of the worst offenders. It was open season for civil rights violations under Trump who explicitly endorsed the worst offenders.