U.S. Justice Department announces investigation of Ville Platte - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Updated with statement from Evangeline Sheriff's Office

U.S. Justice Department announces investigation of Ville Platte Police Department, Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy MGN Online Courtesy MGN Online
The U.S. Justice Department announced today that it is investigating the use of investigative holds by the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley's office, the investigations will focus on allegations that officers use "investigative holds" to detain people without proper cause. It will also focus on the adequacy of officer and deputy training, supervision and accountability mechanisms to prevent unlawful seizures.

The Justice Department's investigations will determine whether officers and deputies engage in a pattern or practice of using investigative holds in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

"No individual should be detained without proper cause or arrested in violation of his or her civil rights," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a prepared statement. "As these investigations move forward, the Department of Justice will work to 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."

Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue said he was unaware of an investigation into his department until Tuesday morning when Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine told him that she had received a letter from the Justice Department.

The letter said federal investigators would be coming to Ville Platte to conduct an investigation into the Police Department and Sheriff's Office, Lartigue said. 

The chief said he has received no such letter from the Justice Department, but plans to cooperate with the investigation 100 percent. 

In a statement, the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office said it will comply with the federal investigation.

"The Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office feels the agency has been in compliance, with all required practices, procedures, policies, and training required by law, since being notified of said changes in laws," the statement reads. "This agency looks forward to resolving this matter in a timely manner. Should any violations of the Fourth Amendment by this agency be found, these violations will be corrected immediately to ensure that no person's constitutional or federal statutory rights are violated at anytime ensuring due process of law."
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