U.S. Department of Justice (131411)

Loretta Lynch’s confirmation as the next U.S. attorney general may be in limbo, but that hasn’t stopped current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder from moving expeditiously in his remaining months in office with his plan to rein in the abusive conduct of local police departments around the nation.

There are currently 20 police departments under investigation or under consent decrees to correct patterns of misconduct, none more egregious than the shooting of unarmed Black youth by white police officers. The Department of Justice is also concerned about rampant racism among law enforcement personnel, with the recent report out of Fort Lauderdale in which officers were discovered exchanging offensive text messages and a video revealing President Barack Obama with gold teeth being the latest incident. Three of the officers were fired and the other resigned.

When the various police departments and their leaders fail to cooperate with the order from the DOJ, they face lawsuits. At the moment, suits are pending against four agencies: Maricopa, Ariz., where troopers killed a homeless man; Alamance, N.C.; Colorado City, Ariz., and Meridian, Ala.

The incident in Fort Lauderdale may bring the DOJ to investigate the agency. Already, the Broward County public defender has sent a letter to the DOJ calling for an investigation of the department for civil rights violations.

According to a report from local newspapers, Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, in the letter, charged he didn’t believe “the Fort Lauderdale Police Department conducted a full investigation. Its investigation was intentionally limited in order to protect the department.”

Like many police departments around the country, the agency in Fort Lauderdale has a number of open and closed cases involving the disproportionate stops and arrests of African-Americans.

“We’re not shocked by those officers’ racist attitudes, we’re just shocked they were stupid enough to make a movie about it,” said Finkelstein. “Stupid knows no bounds within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.”