Bridging the Information Gap: The DOJ’s “Pattern or Practice” Suits and Community Organizations

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  • August 3, 2015

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 allows the Department of Justice to bring a complaint, codified in §14141, against police departments that have consistent records of police brutality. This powerful tool, however, has been somewhat limited by the dearth in information about which police departments are in need of the Department of Justice’s intervention. In this Note, Ms. Holmes examines traditional remedies for police brutality such as the exclusionary rule, § 1983 claims, criminal prosecution, and civilian oversight models, and explains the advantages that § 14141 has over these measures. She then details the resources problem that the Department of Justice faces in pursuing § 14141 litigation. Finally, Ms. Holmes examines the feasibility and desirability of providing the Department of Justice with needed information by implementing a model of information gathering by community groups.