This is what federal probes do

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The Justice Department recently announced an investigation into a Massachusetts police department to determine whether the agency has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing.

Federal prosecutors will determine whether the Worcester Police Department, the latest department to receive federal oversight, has a pattern of excessive use of force or discriminatory police conduct based on race or gender, the DOJ said in a statement.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the Justice Department launched similar investigations into police departments in Minneapolis, Kentucky and Phoenix. In June, the department launched a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police when the agency faced backlash over the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene.

The investigations, which again became a priority under the Biden administration, are often resolved with a consent decree, according to the Justice Department, which requires agencies to meet specific targets before federal oversight ends. While consent decrees have been credited with successfully improving some of the country’s 18,000 police departments, some officials have criticized the court-mandated plans for being expensive, time consuming and ineffective elsewhere.

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