Justice Department Initiates Investigation into Lexington, Mississippi, Police Practices
Published 11:03 am Thursday, November 9, 2023
The Justice Department has opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into the City of Lexington and the Lexington Police Department (LPD). Lexington, a town of approximately 1,600 people, located an hour outside of Jackson, Mississippi, will undergo scrutiny to determine potential systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law.
The investigation will specifically focus on the LAPD’s use of force, stops, searches, and arrests and the overall assessment of their reasonableness and non-discrimination. Additionally, it will evaluate the respect for the right to engage in speech and conduct protected by the First Amendment. The comprehensive review will extend to LPD policies, training, supervision, practices for collecting fines and fees, and accountability systems.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated, “No city, no town, and no law enforcement agency is too large or too small to evade our enforcement of the constitutional rights every American enjoys.” The investigation aims to uncover any potential pattern or practice of discriminatory policing, excessive force, or First Amendment violations within the Lexington Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi emphasized, “Police officers are trusted with the important duty to keep our communities safe. When police officers fail to respect constitutional rights, they violate that trust.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi commits to conducting a thorough and impartial investigation of the LPD and taking decisive action to address any unlawful conduct.
Before the public announcement, Justice Department officials informed Lexington officials, who pledged cooperation with the investigation. The outreach will extend to community groups and members of the public to gather insights into their experiences with the LPD.
The investigation will be jointly conducted by the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi. It is initiated under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, allowing the department to seek court-ordered changes if there is reasonable cause to believe law enforcement officers engaged in conduct violating constitutional rights.