DOJ Announces Investigation of Worcester Police Department

 by Tom MarinoNovember 15, 2022
Last Updated November 15, 2022 4:52 PM

BOSTON - The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday that it has launched an investigation to assess whether Worcester Police Department (WPD) engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force or engages in discriminatory policing based on race or sex.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, the investigation will include:

  • A comprehensive review of policies, procedures, trainings, investigatory files, and data;
  • A review of WPD's systems of accountability, including its systems to address misconduct complaints and discipline;
  • Evaluation of how WPD officers interact with the public, collect evidence, and complete investigations.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said that information provided to DOJ provides "significant justification" for an investigation into "whether the Worcester Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of racially discriminatory and gender-biased policing, and uses excessive force."

U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins said the purpose of the investigation seeks an objective examination, "whether or not there is an overall pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law." Rollins also thanked WPD Chief Steven Sargent for his cooperation and collaboration.

The City of Worcester issued a joint statement by Acting City Manager Eric Batista, Mayor Joe Petty and Chief Sargent on Tuesday afternoon. The statement said the City is working in full cooperation with DOJ and the U.S. Attorney's office.

The U.S. Attorney's office began an investigation of the Springfield Police Department in 2018. That investigation led to a consent decree in 2022.

The investigation is being conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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