University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name DOJ Investigation of Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office PN-LA-0004
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On August 26, 2015, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was opening an investigation into the Ville Platte Police Department (VPPD) and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) for their detention techniques. The DOJ also looked into how VPPD and EPSO trained and ... read more >
On August 26, 2015, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was opening an investigation into the Ville Platte Police Department (VPPD) and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) for their detention techniques. The DOJ also looked into how VPPD and EPSO trained and supervised their officials to prevent unlawful seizures.

The investigation lasted for over a year and the findings were released on December 19, 2016. The Special Litigation Section in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that VPPD and EPSO were engaging in practices that were unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Specifically, the DOJ found that the investigative holds used by VPPD and EPSO were unconstitutional because individuals who were arrested were placed in holding cells without probable cause. Sometimes these detainees were in holding cells for days and were denied the chance to contact family or friends and their ability to access food and personal items was limited.

In addition to the unlawful investigative holds, the DOJ also noted the lack of training, recordkeeping, and oversight regarding VPPD and EPSO policies. According to the investigation, the VPPD and EPSO policies also eroded community trust in law enforcement. Therefore, the investigation concluded with recommendations to address these issues and reform EPSO and VPPD practices. They were required to implement policies banning investigative holds, provide more thorough training, collect and analyze data for detentions, and engage in community outreach activities to rebuild community support. The DOJ reaffirmed its continuing collaboration with EPSO and VPPD and noted that they can take legal action if either agency decides to eschew cooperation to address the problems identified in the investigation. The matter is ongoing.

Amelia Huckins - 02/10/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Failure to train
Over/Unlawful Detention
Record-keeping
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PN-LA-0003 : DOJ Investigation of Ville Platte Police Department (No Court)
Additional Resources
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  New York City to Pay Up to $75 Million Over Dismissed Summonses
New York Times
Date: Jan. 23, 2017
By: Benjamin Weiser (New York Times)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Press Release
PN-LA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section

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