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Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will open a sweeping investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory policing practices.

Why it matters: The federal probe, which will also examine MPD's handling of misconduct allegations against officers, could result in significant changes to policing in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

  • The announcement comes a day after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's killing, setting off celebrations across the country.
  • The Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr announced a separate federal civil rights investigation into Floyd's death last year, and reportedly empaneled a grand jury as it called new witnesses in February, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "Yesterday's verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," Garland said in an address Wednesday.

  • The investigation will assess whether MPD "engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests," and feature a "comprehensive review" of the department's "policies, training, supervision and use of force investigations," according to Garland.
  • DOJ will also investigate whether MPD's treatment of those with "behavior health disabilities" is unlawful. Garland said experienced staff from DOJ's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota have already begun the process of reaching out to both officers and members of the public as part of the review.

The bottom line: If DOJ uncovers evidence of "a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing," it will issue a public report on its findings, Garland said. The agency also has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit compelling MPD to change its policies.

Flashback: While Barr considered opening a discriminatory practices probe into MPD soon after Floyd's murder, he refrained from doing so in fear that it "could cause further divisions in law enforcement amid widespread protests and civil unrest," AP reports, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Go deeper: AG Garland reverses Trump-era policy on consent decrees for police abuses

Go deeper

AG urges Abbott to rescind restrictions on undocumented migrant travel

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (left) and Attorney General Merrick Garland (right). Photos: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool and Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to immediately rescind restrictions on undocumented migrant travel.

Why it matters: Abbott's order, which bars people from providing ground transportation to migrants detained for illegally crossing the border, gives the state's Department of Public Safety authority to stop and reroute "any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion" of violating the order.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, California, was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The latest: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, continued to threaten communities in Plumas County into Thursday night, as more mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the region.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.