A Justice Department investigation will address whether the Worcester Police Department has a pattern of excessive use of force and discriminatory policing based on race or sex is underway, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts confirmed Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office will look into department policies, procedures, training and other elements to determine if there is a pattern of issues. They will also look into the department's existing systems of accountability, such as how it looks into allegations of misconduct or other disciplinary measures.
"Worcester police officers have a challenging job of ensuring the safety of the Worcester community. This often means responding to or encountering tense and at times dangerous conflicts and situations. I am well aware that the overwhelming majority of officers serve and do their jobs with honor, pride, restraint and distinction," said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins in a media release.
Worcester officials, including acting City Manager Eric Batista, Mayor Joseph Petty and Police Chief Steven Sargent, issued a joint statement Tuesday afternoon saying they are "working in full cooperation" with the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney.
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"The Worcester Police Department will continue to work with the state and federal partners on public safety initiatives to protect and serve our citizens," they said. "The City and Worcester Police Department collectively strive to deliver the highest quality of municipal services to residents and will continue to do so in a transparent and professional manner as the investigation takes its course."
The Worcester investigation falls under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which concerns protecting citizens' Constitutional rights when dealing with law enforcement.
The Springfield Police Department was the subject of a similar investigation starting in 2018. In that investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said their investigation found chronic issues with use of force and poor record-keeping, among other problems.