Christy Lopez, the Justice Department official charged with reforming the Ferguson Police Department after the shooting of Michael Brown, helped pioneer the federal government's approach to police misconduct in the 1990s and has overseen a dramatic spike in civil rights probes of law enforcement organizations during the Obama administration, reports the Huffington Post. Lopez, who rejoined the Justice Department in 2010, is a deputy chief in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. She has been closely involved with DOJ-led reforms in large cities like New Orleans and smaller ones like East Haven, Connecticut.
Lopez is overseeing the broader civil rights investigation, the “pattern or practice” probe, into the practices of the Ferguson police, which seeks to determine whether the department deprives citizens of their civil rights systematically. Lopez will work with police and Ferguson residents to understand problems between officers and residents. She will then make recommendations and will likely enter into an agreement with the city to implement reforms. “Christy is one of the real pioneers in the area of oversight of the police, having been involved since the inception of the program within the Civil Rights Division to enter into consent decrees, calling for the reformation of law enforcement agencies,” said Merrick Bobb of the Police Assessment Resource Center, who has worked with Lopez. “She seems to deal with relative equanimity in all these very highly political, charged, and difficult cases.”