The Justice Department launched a broad investigation Thursday into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting last month of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer.
The investigation, which goes beyond an existing federal probe into the Aug. 9 shooting, will look for patterns of discrimination within the predominantly white department and focus on how officers use force, search and arrest suspects, and treat inmates at the city jail. The police department said it welcomed the investigation.
In announcing the action, Attorney General Eric Holder, who visited the St. Louis suburb two weeks ago, said he and his department had heard numerous concerns from people there about police practices, a history of “deep mistrust” of law enforcement and a lack of diversity on the police force.
The inquiry is part of a broader DOJ effort to investigate troubled police departments and, when pervasive problems are found, institute changes. The department says it has investigated more than 20 police departments in the past five years, more than twice the number of cases opened in the previous five years.