CA Probes Police Use of Force in Bakersfield, Kern County

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The two largest law enforcement agencies in Kern County, Calif., labelled the deadliest police departments in America following a Guardian investigation, will be investigated by state authorities, California attorney general Kamala Harris announced Thursday. The Bakersfield police department and the Kern County sheriff’s office killed people at a higher rate than departments in any other county in America during 2015 and have been criticized for a culture of violence, corruption and impunity, according to the Guardian.

Harris, a U.S. senator-elect who will step down as attorney general at the end of the year, said the decision to open the investigations was driven by media reports and community complaints alleging “use of excessive force and other serious misconduct,” which her department had been examining for more than a year. The “patterns and practices” investigations will probe for civil rights violations at both department, Harris said in a statement. Fourteen people were killed by law enforcers in 2015 in Kern County (pop. 875,000). That was four more than the 10 people killed by police in New York, which has 10 times the population and 23 times more officers than Kern County.

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