DOJ Casting Wary Eye |at Investigations in La.

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The Justice Department is investigating allegations of the use of unconstitutional “investigative holds” by the sheriff’s offices in Ville Platte in Evangeline Parish.
     Ville Platte is the capital of Evangeline Parish, which sits in what was traditionally French county in the center of the state. Parishes in Louisiana are equivalent to counties.
     “No individual should be detained without proper cause or arrested in violation of his or her civil rights,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement about the ongoing investigation. “As these investigations move forward, the Department of Justice will ensure that the actions of the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office are in service of our shared mission, consistent with our common values, and in accordance with the Constitution that we are sworn to uphold.”
     The agency offered no specifics about the types or circumstance of “investigative holds” under investigation.
     The Justice Department said it was in contact with officials from Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish and would continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies in the investigations process.
     “It is imperative that officers use their authority within the boundaries of the law and the Constitution,” Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “We are eager to work together with the Ville Platte Police Department, Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and the local municipalities to help ensure that their officers are engaged in law enforcement practices that are consistent with the Constitution.”
     Evangeline Parish is fairly rural with a population of just over 33,000 and has been the subject of other investigations throughout the last decade. The parish was cited as using unconstitutional police stops in a 2008 report on racial profiling put out by the ACLU, and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2011 over what it said was an unconstitutional parish-wide curfew.

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