The U.S. Justice Department has announced investigations into patterns and practices of the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office.
According to a release issued by late Tuesday, federal investigators will look at the departments’ use of so-called “investigative holds” during which individuals are detained without probable cause, typically while local police or deputies investigate those individuals’ suspected ties to a crime. The feds will also look into whether officers and deputies with the local departments have been adequately trained and whether the use of investigative holds represents a pattern by the departments.
“No individual should be detained without proper cause or arrested in violation of his or her civil rights,” Attorney General Eric Holder says in the release announcing the inquiry. “As these investigations move forward, the Department of Justice will work to ensure that the actions of the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office are in service of our shared mission, consistent with our common values, and in accordance with the Constitution that we are sworn to uphold.”
According to the release:
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of misconduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of federally-protected rights. The act also allows the Justice Department to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation. The Justice Department has conducted similar investigations and has obtained important reforms in police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country.
“All of us who work in law enforcement should be focused on due process every day,” adds U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana headquartered in Lafayette. “Each citizen deserves to be treated with respect and in accordance with the Constitution. We will continue to work with all of our local partners to ensure that arrests and detentions are proper and legal, with the goal of having safeguards in place to make sure that similar violations do not occur in the future.”