University of Pittsburgh

David Harris on Federal "Pattern or Practice" Investigations of Police Departments

Publish Date/Time: 
April 6, 2012

Professor David Harris explained how the U.S. Department of Justice uses "pattern or practice" authority to investigate police departments that regularly deprive people of their civil rights.  In Milwaukee, the press reported recently that 93 that city police officers have retained their jobs despite their own run-ins with the law.  And just two weeks ago, further reports surfaced that seven officers and a sergeant are being investigated for sexual assaults that allegedly occurred during body cavity searches.  Such a pattern of wrongdoing could bring federal investigators into the picture under the "pattern or practice " law, Professor Harris said.   "The argument that there are a few bad apples, I don't buy that.  The fact that they are allowed to exist and thrive in the open for years and years means you have a dysfunctional organization."  


See the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article here.

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