The US Department of Justice is investigating whether the Kansas City Police Department in Missouri has had a pattern of racial discrimination against black officers, according to a letter sent to the agency on Monday.
“Our investigation is based on information suggesting that KCPD may be engaging in certain employment practices that discriminate against black officers and applicants,” the police department’s letter to CNN reads.
Investigators will look into allegations of race-based disparities in hiring, promotions, detective work, disciplining officers and “maintaining a hostile work environment,” the DOJ said in the letter.
The DOJ did not provide further details about the allegations, but said the investigation is into labor practices involving current and prospective employees.
Interim Kansas City Police Chief Joseph Mabin told CNN his office was made aware of the labor practices investigation Monday morning and is committed to fully cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation.
“It is the policy and practice of the Police Commission and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department to provide a work environment free of actual or perceived discrimination and harassment,” Mabin said. “I am committed to ensuring that every member experiences a safe and fair work environment and that every applicant is treated fairly throughout the hiring process.”
The DOJ declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
The investigation into Kansas City police hiring and employment procedures is the latest “pattern or practice” investigation into U.S. police agencies launched under Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has vowed to look into police department practices that perpetrate civil rights violations.
In June, the DOJ launched an investigation into whether the Louisiana State Police engaged in racially discriminatory policing and excessive use of force.
“This investigation, like all of our model or practice investigations, will seek to promote the transparency, accountability and public trust that is essential to public safety,” Garland said at the time.
Prior to that, in April 2021, Garland announced an investigation into the Louisville, Kentucky Police Department in the botched raid that killed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Four current and former Louisville police officers involved in the deadly attack on Breonna Taylor’s home were later charged with civil rights violations and other crimes.