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Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Friday announced it has opened a civil rights investigation into the Mount Vernon Police Department in Westchester County, New York, following allegations of discriminatory policing.

Why it matters: This is the Biden administration's fourth DOJ-led civil rights probe into policing practices with previous investigations launched in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix.

The big picture: The DOJ opened a "pattern or practice" investigation Friday to assess the Mount Vernon Police Department's use of force, strip and body cavity searches and how the department handles evidence.

  • The department will also review the 184-officer force's systems of accountability, including complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition and discipline.
  • DOJ will also reach out to community groups to learn about their experiences with local police.
  • Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah requested in May that the DOJ intervene over what she called "pervasive and persistent" civil rights violations committed by officers, The Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that law enforcement agencies across our country use their authority in a manner that is constitutional, transparent and free from discrimination," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

  • “Police officers have tough jobs, and so many do their work honorably, lawfully, and with distinction, respecting the rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect,” said Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement.
  • “But when officers break the law, they violate their oath and undermine a community’s trust," Williams added.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

HRW criticizes Biden over "mixed signals" on human rights

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch criticized President Biden and other leaders of democratic nations for sending "mixed signals" on human rights in its annual World Report published on Thursday, saying they "are not meeting the challenges before them."

Why it matters: Though Biden pledged to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that weapon sales to repressive governments and public reticence on certain human rights violations place those promises in question.

Nashville police starting activities group for youths

Police chief John Drake. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Police chief John Drake is creating a new division that he says expands on the most rewarding part of his 34-year career in the department.

  • The "Police Activities League" will oversee athletics and other programming for young people, according to the department.
14 mins ago - Sports

Olympians avoiding COVID at all costs ahead of Beijing Games

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

10 days out from the Olympics, athletes around the world are battening down the hatches in hopes of making it to Beijing COVID-free.

Why it matters: The Beijing bubble — a closed-loop system meant to shut off the outside world entirely — is the strictest ever created for a global sporting event.

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