The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into the employment practices of the Kansas City Police Department, per the Kansas City Star.
On Monday (September 19), Chief Joseph Mabin said the department is fully cooperating with the federal probe that will determine whether the force engaged in racial discrimination.
“It is the policy and practice of the Board of Police Commissioners and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department to provide a work atmosphere free of actual or perceived discrimination and harassment,” Mabin said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring every member experiences a safe and fair work environment and every applicant receives fair treatment throughout the hiring process.
Kristen Clarke, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's civil rights division, said the probe is based on allegations that KCPD "engaged in certain employment practices that discriminate against Black officers and applicants, including those that have a disparate impact based on race, in entry-level hiring, promotions, and assignments to Detective, in imposing discipline, and by maintaining a hostile work environment,” per a letter obtained by the Kansas City Star.
The news of the probe comes months after reports broke detailing the department's alleged history of racism and harassment.
According to the Kansas City Star, Black officers have been disproportionately disciplined by KCPD, and over a 15-year period, at least 18 officers left because of racist treatment.
“It is important to note that we have not reached any conclusion about the subject matter of the investigation,” Clarke wrote Monday to KCPD’s attorney and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “We intend to consider all relevant information, and we welcome your assistance in helping to identify what that might be.”
Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, applauded the DOJ for opening the investigation.
“We are elated we are extremely hopeful that this investigation will set us on a course for transparency, accountability, equity, and justice,” Grant told The Star. “We hope this employment investigation will expand to include excessive and deadly use of force patterns and practices as well."