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AG Merrick Garland Announces Probe Into Minneapolis Police Practices

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The United States Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

The announcement comes one day after a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said this civil investigation will look beyond one incident to address systemic failures.

"The investigation I'm announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests," Garland said.

He said a team of investigators will be part of a comprehensive review of Minneapolis police policies, training, supervision and use=of-force investigations.

"It will assess the effectives of the MPD's current systems of accountability, and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing," Garland said.

(credit: ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The DOJ says investigators will engage officers to hear about their training and support, and that community involvement is vital to the success of the investigation.

Pastor Ian Bethel leads the Unity Community Mediation Group.

"We are doing the work every day, every day," Bethel said. "We represent the cross section of this community."

The unity group first began working with Minneapolis police a decade ago, looking for change to the use of force. It re-upped its efforts last June after the murder of George Floyd, meeting with police weekly, sometimes daily.

"The work is reform, it's transformation, it's accountability, it's transparency," he said. "But there's also consequences, and not only for law enforcement in Minneapolis, or our state, or our country, but also for the community."

He expects the DOJ investigation to find what they've found.

"They're going to find the reality of what has been happening," Bethel said. "It's systemic. It is systemic."

He says the group has witnessed progress, like the ban on chokeholds, while having a seat at the table. And he welcomes federal assistance.

Acting U.S. Attorney of Minnesota Anders Folk is part of the investigative team.

"We'll be beginning our outreach efforts today," Folk said. "It's gonna be about changing practices and about changing how the department does is business. This isn't about a settlement for money. This is about changing practices and changing, if necessary, the culture."

MPD says it welcomes the investigation and will fully cooperate. Minneapolis city officials say it has "already begun working with the DOJ team."

This investigation is separate from the previously-announced federal criminal investigation into George Floyd's death. Last summer, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched a civil rights investigation into MPD, which is ongoing.

A number of Twin Cities community groups gathered Wednesday afternoon to praise the DOJ investigation, but they also say it doesn't go far enough. Mohamed Ibrahim is deputy director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"We want to call to say that's not enough. We want to make sure that investigation is also expanded into the Brooklyn Center Police Department, the St. Paul Police Department, as well as other police departments in the state of Minnesota," Ibrahim said.

Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality also says the investigation's scope must widen.

"We have a toxic culture among police in this state, and not just in one department," Gross said.

WCCO is told this will be a labor intensive investigation that will likely take months to complete.

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