Louisiana State Police Under U.S. Justice Department Investigation

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The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it has opened an investigation into Louisiana State Police.

The DOJ says the civil investigation will look into whether LSP uses excessive force and whether it engages in racially discriminatory policing. It will include what the department calls a "comprehensive review" into the organization's policies, training, supervision, investigations into use-of-force, and its systems of accountability.

"There are reports that (troopers) target black residents in their traffic enforcement practices and in use of force," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis are aware of the investigation and have pledged to cooperate, according to a Justice Department press release.

"Some of the reports include disturbing information about the use of racial slurs and racially derogatory terms by LSP troopers," said Clarke.

This investigation comes three years after troopers dragged and beat Ronald Greene, a black man, to death during a traffic stop, leading to claims LSP has ignored other racially-charged attacks.

Investigators found troopers were turning off their body cameras during pursuits and footage was ignored during use-of-force reports.

Gov. Edwards and Col. Davis released statements Thursday afternoon welcoming the investigation.

"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," Edwards said. "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."

"Our personnel truly make a difference in our communities and I am grateful for the sacrifices they make on behalf of public safety," Davis said. "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."

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