*There have been growing calls that the Justice Department open an investigation on the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department over systematic police misconduct. Team ROC, the social justice wing of hip-hop star Jay-Z‘s entertainment company, has added its voice to the growing calls.
“There is no excuse to justify the DOJ’s silence,” Team ROC quipped in an open letter on Tuesday. The letter is addressed to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. Also with Team ROC was the nonprofit Midwest Innocence Project. The latter added that there is sufficient evidence of systematic police misconduct in the department hence a “pattern or practice” investigation is the only way to review allegations of discrimination and wrongdoing.
“The DOJ’s continued inaction tells targeted minority communities held hostage to the whims of the carceral state that justice does not exist for them, that their lives do not matter,” reads the letter.
“Allegations of corruption and civil rights violations against police over the decades are not isolated,” said Alex Spiro, Team ROC’s lawyer. He added that the recent news reports about the Kansas police department kept hitting Team ROC’s desk repeatedly, and that’s when they knew they had to get involved.
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In September, Team ROC sued the police department so as to get more records to “help ascertain the scope of the misconduct and evaluate the adequacy of the [Kansas police department’s] training and supervision.”
After this, Team ROC took out a full-page ad in Washington Post demanding an investigation. Last month, Spiro wrote to the Justice Department to complain that a “blue wall of silence” has nurtured the misconduct.
One of the cases that point to the rot involved a former Kansas City detective who was accused of sexually exploiting Black women and framing people to get charged for crimes they claim they didn’t commit. He was the subject of a federal investigation last year.
Another tip of the iceberg is the FBI records recently made public. The records, some stretching as far back as the 1990s, showed that federal investigators found several allegations of civil rights violations, plus that over 200 Kansas City police officers used excessive force and were accused of misconduct over the years.
“Our relationship with the community is of utmost importance which is why we are focused on strengthening current relationships and restoring those that have been broken,” said Police Chief Karl Oakman in a statement last year. He is in charge of the 345-member agency since June. He added he would assist in general with any investigation.