The Justice Department announced today an agreement with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) to resolve a race discrimination civil rights complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In response to the complaint, LCSO worked cooperatively with the Justice Department to reach a resolution agreement that will modernize its policing operations and further its ongoing efforts to prevent and address discriminatory law enforcement practices.
In May 2022, the Justice Department received a complaint from Delaware State University (DSU), a historically Black university, alleging that LCSO discriminated against its student athletes, athletic coach, and driver when it conducted a racially discriminatory traffic stop in Georgia of a bus charted by DSU. Following the traffic stop, the University alleged that the subsequent questioning and search of the personal belongings of the primarily Black passengers, including through the use of a drug-sniffing dog, constituted unlawful race discrimination in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (Title VI). Title VI prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. LCSO is a recipient of federal funding from the Justice Department.
“Fairness and racial equity are fundamental principles for effective law enforcement, especially for those agencies that receive federal funding,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The students and staff at Delaware State University deserve policing that is racially equitable and bias-free. The agreement that we have secured with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office will help ensure that its policing practices are free from racial bias and discrimination going forward. We will continue working to ensure that federally funded law enforcement agencies comply with our federal civil rights laws.”
“Law enforcement is most effective when it is supported by public confidence,” said U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg for the Southern District of Georgia. “The agreement announced today is a step toward ensuring that policing occurs in an evenhanded manner.”
Under the agreement, LCSO will review its bias-free policing policies, make necessary updates to its policies on traffic enforcement and searches, and develop and implement data collection procedures, among other provisions.
The enforcement of Title VI is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/.