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Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine if they have engaged in "violations of the Constitution or federal law," Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.

Why it matters: Louisville became the center of national attention last year after police officers shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her home. Her death led to a wave of mass protests across the country.

  • It’s the second "pattern or practice" investigation the DOJ has announced in a week’s span, after it said it would probe Minneapolis last week.

What he's saying: The DOJ will look at whether the department has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of civil rights violations or unlawful activity, according to Garland.

  • "Trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve" is the key to safety.
  • The DOJ will work with the department to increase transparency and accountability, Garland said. "We come to them as partners, knowing that we share a common aim."

The DOJ plans to investigate:

  • The use of unreasonable force, including incidents involving peaceful protesters.
  • Unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures.
  • Unlawful search warrants in private homes.
  • Discriminatory conduct on the basis of race.

If violations are uncovered, the DOJ will work with the department to arrive at "mutually agreeable steps" to correct and prevent unlawful practices.

  • The DOJ will follow the law and the facts "wherever they lead," Garland said.

The big picture: The announcement comes one week after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, signaling a shift in future prosecutions of police brutality cases.

Go deeper: 6 police killings occurred in the 24 hours after verdict in Chauvin trial

Go deeper

Aug 3, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

National Night Out block parties return to the Twin Cities

Photo courtesy of National Night Out

COVID-19 wiped out many of last summer's National Night Out block parties, but neighbors across the country are heading back to the streets tonight.

How it works: Neighbors who register with their cities can typically block off a street to hold a potluck.

Why it matters: It's a great way to meet and reconnect with your community.

  • NNO has also historically been a time when officers visit neighborhoods and build relationships. But it comes as police-community relations have changed dramatically nationwide in recent years, particularly following the murder of George Floyd.

By the numbers: In Minneapolis, residents have registered 1,407 block parties, which is more than the 1,371 events held in the pre-pandemic 2019, according to city spokesperson Casper Hill. (About 1,000 registered for a makeup National Night Out in September 2020, he said.)

  • St. Paul has 285 registrations for NNO parties this year, up from 86 last year but still down from 379 in 2019, said St. Paul Police Department spokesperson Steve Linders.

What they're saying: Linders said the police department is planning a typical number of officer visits to parties.

  • "Officers really look forward to visiting the events," he said.
  • Minneapolis police will also make appearances, said spokesperson John Elder. Though, they likely won't be able to attend as many given the officer shortage, he said.

Meanwhile, critics of traditional policing are hosting their own counter-programming, billed as an opportunity to "redefine and re-imagine what public safety means for our communities."

  • The Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign, which is backing a November charter amendment to disband MPD and replace it with a new division of public safety, is holding an afternoon event as part of the competing Night Out for Safety and Liberation.
  • While some supporters will host their own community events, others are encouraged to bring the message back to NNO gatherings, spokesperson JaNaé Bates told us.
  • "Just having a one-off day in the middle of summer in the hope that will smooth over decades of harm between police entities and communities isn't useful," Bates said. "But what is really great is having a time for neighbors to connect with each other."

What else is different: There's a pandemic still going on, and some block parties are skipping the potluck.

📸 Are you participating in National Night Out or an alternative event?

Four police officers who responded to Capitol riot have died by suicide

U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, right, looks on as U.S. Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, left, testifies before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Four police police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have died by suicide, according to the WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in the city.

Driving the news: D.C. Metropolitan Officer Kyle DeFreytag, who served in the Fifth District and responded to the Capitol riot, was found dead on July 10. DeFreytag joined the department in 2016, per CNN.

Third police officer who responded to Jan. 6 Capitol riot dies by suicide

Members of the U.S. Capitol Police rush to respond to rioters on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Washington, D.C. police officer who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot died by suicide last week, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has confirmed.

Why it matters: Officer Gunther Hashida is the third police officer known to have died by suicide after defending the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

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