Justice Department Launches Investigation into Phoenix, City Police Department

By: Alyssa Wilson

The Justice Department will be investigating the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department.  

RELATED: DOJ Launches Investigation into Minneapolis’ Policing Policies 

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke from the Civil Rights Division announced the investigation Thursday afternoon. It will review the use of force used by officers, including deadly force. The department also said the investigation would seek to determine if officers engaged in “retaliatory activity” against people, such as whether officers engage in discriminatory policing and if they unlawfully seize and dispose of the belongings of those experiencing homelessness.  

The Phoenix Police Department’s systems and practices for responding to people with disabilities will also be under investigation. Additionally, it will include a review of the department’s policies, training, supervision, and accountability systems, including misconduct complaint intake and discipline.  

The police department has had several high-profile cases highlighting police violence and misconduct. In June 2019, the department pointed guns at a Black family, including a pregnant woman. In November 2020, a Black man was shot in the back by a Phoenix police officer.  

“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,” Garland said. “This increases public trust, which in turn increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals.” 

RELATED: Justice Department Announces Investigation into Louisville Police Department 

Clarke said the priority is to ensure everyone benefits from the police. “One of the highest priorities of the Civil Rights Division is to ensure that every person in this country benefits from policing that is lawful, effective, transparent, and free from discrimination,” she said. “Police officers across the country must use their authority in a manner that adheres to the Constitution, complies with federal civil rights laws and respects human dignity.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here. 

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