California’s top law enforcement official will investigate whether A police station swung by allegations regarding Racist and derogatory text messageS Officials have committed widespread civil rights violations, officials said Wednesday.
In a statement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said the investigation into the “deeply concerning” allegations made against the Antioch Police Department in recent weeks will determine whether the agency is a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing.” “ applies.
“If, as part of this investigation, the office of the attorney general determines that unlawful activity or practice has occurred, the office will also identify what potential actions are needed to ensure that comprehensive corrective action is taken in APD,” the attorney general’s office said.
An investigation report compiled by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office After a joint investigation by the FBI and local police last month, it was alleged that dozens of officers sent or received racist and derogatory messages in 2020 and 2021.
The messages include homophobic slurs, racist imagery and casual discussion of the use of “less lethal” weapons against people, including the city’s mayor, who the report says is black.
“The early signs we’ve seen here in Antioch are ringing alarm bells,” Bonta said told reporters on Wednesday.
A police department spokeswoman in Antioch, northeast of San Francisco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bonta’s investigation.
Police Commissioner Steven Ford has condemned the “racially despicable content and incomprehensible behavior media reports ascribed to members of the Antioch Police Department”.
The Antioch Police Officers Association did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Eight officers have been placed on furlough in connection with the allegations, said Michael Rains, an attorney representing some of the officers named in the report.
Several people have sued the department over the allegationsand argued in a federal lawsuit filed last month that six of the officers identified in the report simultaneously violated their civil rights when they exchanged the messages.
Rains said Wednesday he has no objection to Bonta investigating the matter “provided it is done in a thorough and objective manner.”
“I think when the Attorney General does this and shares the findings with the public, he will conclude that despite the claims in many media reports that inappropriate text messaging is rife in the agency, that is simply not the case – the text messaging.” , who…” “Mr. Bonta and others have described that very few officers engaged in abusive practices,” Rains said in an email.