BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is opening a pattern or practice civil investigation into the Louisiana State Police (LSP), marking the fifth pattern investigation under the Biden Administration. This investigation is to determine if LSP engages in a pattern or practice of violation of the constitution or federal law.
The civil investigation will focus on whether LSP has a pattern or practice of using excessive force and whether the LSP engages racially discriminatory practices against African Americans and other people of color.
Louisiana has the second highest percentage of black residents in the country.
“Every American, regardless of race, has the right to constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The DOJ received information about the repeated use of excessive force against people who are suspected of minor traffic offenses, who are already handcuffed, or are not resisting, in most cases injuries related to these stops were severe, including the death of Ronald Greene. They also received reports that LSP targets black residents in their traffic stops and use of force.
Other reports proves the use of unwarranted force during pursuits involving tasers and “blows to the head” and the use of racial slurs and racial derogatory terms by LSP troopers.
“Protecting the civil rights of all Americans and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve are among the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities. This investigation, like all of our pattern or practice investigations, will seek to promote the transparency, accountability, and public trust that is essential to public safety,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
The goal of this investigation is to ensure that LSP policing policies are constitutional and lawful, finding ways the community can regain trust in their local law enforcement.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he supports and will cooperate with this federal investigation.
“I welcome the U.S Department of Justice’s civil investigation into the patterns and practices of Louisiana State Police. It is deeply troubling that allegations of systemic misconduct exist that would warrant this type of investigation, but it is absolutely critical that all Louisianans, especially African Americans and other people of color, have their faith, confidence, and trust in public safety officers restored. This investigation is one part of that process. I share the Department of Justice’s goal of ensuring that Louisiana State Police are policing in a constitutional way. It is my expectation that all employees of the Louisiana State Police will cooperate fully and completely with this investigation. It is my commitment and that of Col. Lamar Davis to the U.S. Department of Justice that they will have complete cooperation from the agency. I am confident in the leadership of Col. Davis, who has already made great strides in reforming the agency. While I firmly believe that the vast majority of Louisiana State Police troopers meet the professional standards of law enforcement officers and protect and serve honorably, when some do not, our people, communities, and state suffer. Working together, I am confident that Louisiana State Police will continue to make positive changes so that all of our people can feel protected and safe.”
LSP Col. Lamar Davis says he is vowed to regain the trust of Louisiana citizens, law enforcement personnel, and political leaders. He says he will continue to implement critical changes within LSP.
“Since accepting the position of Louisiana State Police Superintendent, I have vowed to regain the trust of our citizens, our law enforcement partners, our political leaders, and the men and women of our agency. The Department of Public Safety is comprised of over a 1,000 dedicated men and women within our commissioned ranks. Each of them display selfless service, courage, and integrity on a daily basis. Our personnel truly make a difference in our communities and I am grateful for the sacrifices they make on behalf of public safety. That does not change the fact that we have had some employees violate the trust of our citizens and of their colleagues. When that occurs, it is incumbent upon our agency to uphold our public safety oath and make the changes necessary to ensure that this does not ever happen again. With today’s announcement of a Federal Civil Rights investigation, our agency will continue to offer our full cooperation as we have done with all investigations over the last several years. No one is more committed to implementing positive change within our agency than our own personnel who work tirelessly each day to provide professional public safety services to the state of Louisiana. As our agency moves forward, we have taken great strides in amending policies such as banning chokeholds, banning the use of impact weapons to the head and neck, instituting a duty to intervene policy, and defining accountability for supervisors to review, track, and report excessive force incidents. Implicit bias training is already in effect and de-escalation/duty to intervene training will begin this year. These improvements and reforms affect every aspect of our department and are only possible through the dedicated efforts of our Troopers, DPS Police Officers, and support staff. These steps are vital to ensuring that we provide the best services and constitutional policing possible to the communities we serve. We remain committed to the reform process through continued coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice and community stakeholders. Through this coordination, we will continue to implement critical changes within Louisiana State Police and build trust within our communities.”
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder released the following statement on the investigation:
“We’re glad to see the United States Department of Justice has decided to broaden their investigation into the circumstances surrounding and following the death of Ronald Greene, as well as other questionable cases within the Office of State Police, to uncover the truth and circumstances surrounding recent incidents. We believe new information uncovered through the House created special committee has played a major role in this decision by the DOJ to take action nearly three years after the Ronald Greene incident. While we have the utmost respect and regard for our Louisiana state troopers, we also understand that there are times when shining a light on questionable behavior by some must take place. We will see our commitment through and continue to hold hearings in our search for the truth surrounding the death of Ronald Greene and hold accountable those responsible.”