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Department of Justice investigating Phoenix Police Department’s treatment of homeless residents

The DOJ is looking into the Phoenix Police Department.

Merrick Garland Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

The Department of Justice is taking a hard look at cops in Phoenix.

On Thursday (Aug. 5), the DOJ announced that its civil rights division is launching an investigation into policing practices in the Arizona city, specifically the way local authorities treat the homeless population.

“We have reviewed court files, media reports, citizen complaints and we also considered factors that we ordinarily weigh in determining whether to open an investigation, including the nature and seriousness of the allegations, the number of allegations, the steps that a department may be taking to address the allegations and the history of the department,” said Kristen Clarke, who operates as the head of the civil rights division.

“We found that the evidence here warrants a full investigation, but we approach this process with no predispositions or pre-drawn conclusions,” she added.

The investigation is one that will see the DOJ look into whether members of the Phoenix police force have a pattern of using deadly force on citizens experiencing homelessness. The investigation will also examine instances in which the Phoenix Department “unlawfully seizes or disposes of the belongings of individuals experiencing homelessness” while also assessing the city and its police department’s “systems and practices for responding to people with disabilities.”

In a statement, attorney general Merrick Garland spoke on the investigation and the importance of accountability.

“When we conduct pattern or practice investigations to determine whether the Constitution or federal law has been violated, our aim is to promote transparency and accountability,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “This increases public trust, which in turn increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the situation. Watch a news conference regarding the investigation for yourself below.

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