The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday new investigations into whether two Evangeline Parish law enforcement agencies have been violating the Constitution and federal law by detaining people without probable cause.
Authorities will determine whether the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Ville Platte Police Department have been misusing “investigative holds” to conduct unlawful detainments and seizures, according to a Justice Department press release. Investigative holds are used to detain people without formally arresting them, usually for questioning.
“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 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.”
Neither Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau nor Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue responded to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Aside from allegations both agencies may have committed civil rights violations, it’s unclear which events brought investigators to this point.
Spokespersons with both the Justice Department and the Lafayette office of U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley did not respond Tuesday afternoon to requests for comment.
The Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will travel to Evangeline Parish to conduct the investigation, which will include evaluations of each agency’s “training, supervision and accountability mechanisms to prevent unlawful seizures,” the news release stated.
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