The Justice Department announced that federal prosecutors are investigating whether the police department in Massachusetts’s second largest city has used excessive force or has a discriminatory policing system based on race or gender.
Investigators will review the Worcester Police Department’s policies and training as well as the department’s systems for addressing and disciplining misconduct. The Justice Department said the investigation will also evaluate how police department officers interact with the public and investigate crimes. in a statement Tuesday
“Based on the information provided to the Department of Justice, we find significant justification to investigate whether the Worcester Police Department is engaging in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination and gender-biased policing, and the use of excessive force,” the assistant said. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Worcester, a city of about 200,000 residents, is about 40 miles west of Boston.
in view of murder of george floyd, Justice Department launched a similar investigation in police departments minneapolis, louisville And wonder, The department launched in June Extensive civil rights investigation into Louisiana State Police As the agency faced backlash Ronald Greene’s fatal 2019 arrest,
Investigators solved a pattern and practice investigation at the Springfield Police Department in Massachusetts A consent decree earlier this year, according to the Justice Department.
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The Justice Department did not cite any specific incident that led to the investigation. Worcester Dept.
in april, a black man filed a federal lawsuit against the city and five police officers, claiming he was Wrongful charge of murder on the basis of race And what his lawyers called fabricated evidence.
The suit cites nine others, dating back to 2012, that accuse Worcester police of fabricating evidence, including in the case of Christopher Ayala-Melendez, who sued the department in 2020 claiming that the department used excessive force and violated their civil rights during the arrest.
a father and son filed a civil rights lawsuit Against the city, the Police Department and two of its officers used a stun gun on the Rev. Joseph Rizzuti Sr. while arresting him, his son, and his son’s wife on August 25, 2019. Rizzuti Sr. and his son are both publicists, acquitted of six charges Related to last month’s incident, according to the Telegram and the Gazette, part of the USA TODAY network.
US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Rachel S. “I am well aware that the vast majority of officers serve and do their jobs with honor, pride, restraint and dignity,” Rollins said in a statement. “The purpose of this civil investigation is to determine – through objective and thorough examination – whether there is an overall pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law.”
Police Chief Steven Sargent, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Acting City Manager Eric Batista pledged to cooperate with the investigation in a joint statement.
“The City and the Worcester Police Department collectively strive to provide the highest quality of municipal services to residents and will continue to do so in a transparent and professional manner,” the statement said.
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Contributing: Brad Petrishen and Tony Cowie, The Telegram and The Gazette; The Associated Press
Contact breaking news reporter N’dea Yancey-Bragg at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg