The Justice Department launched a probe Thursday into the Miami Police Department’s training policies and use of deadly force.
Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez and Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said that the “pattern and practice” investigation will center around the shootings of seven black men, which occurred between July 2010 and February 2011, according to the AP.
Miami police officers maintain that split second choices led to the shootings, but the Justice Department will look into whether the Police Department’s training methods, leadership and practices influenced the officers’ decisions.
If the Justice Department rules that the city’s police department is guilty of systemic flaws, it could mandate reforms.
The Miami Police Department is already conducting a “top to bottom review of everything, from training to hiring,” after hiring a new chief in September, according to a spokesperson for the department who spoke to the Miami Herald.
The previous chief, Miguel Exposito, who had refused to turn over details about the July 2010 killing of Decarlos Moore to a civilian oversight panel, was fired for insubordination.
The Justice Department last conducted a civil probe of the Miami Police Department in 2002 at the request of the city. Federal officials found in 2003 that the city’s police officers were inappropriately conducting searches and seizures, and overusing firearms, force and police dogs. The report, however, did not find that the police department’s polices led to any violations of federal civil rights statutes.