Amid cries feds investigate MPD, FOX13 examines what that would look like

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is a call for federal oversight of the Memphis Police Department after a request was made by the family of Tyre Nichols in a letter to the United Nations.

But what would federal oversight mean on our streets?

Amid deafening calls for justice and national outrage over Nichols’ beating death, FOX13 obtained the letter, signed by Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and their lawyers.

Along with ten other items they say must be addressed “urgently,” the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division take steps to compel the Memphis police department into reform.

Now FOX13 is investigating what that could look like, so we dug into similar investigations opened in the wake of big, and sometimes violent demonstrations in Chicago, after the police shooting of an unarmed black man, LaQuan Mcdonald, and in Baltimore, Md., after the in-custody death of another black ma, Freddie Gray.

What emerged is known as a “pattern or practice” investigation, opening departments in Chicago, Baltimore, Md. Ferguson, Mo. and others to an examination as their files are looked at for possible issues of officer misconduct, discriminatory policing, issues with use of force and training, and if public complaints are adequately investigated.

RELATED: Tyre Nichols’ family, attorney ask United Nations for help in fight for justice

The chorus of community members and demonstrators on Memphis streets and at meetings would also have their cries heard.

The review of thousands of pages of police documents, ride-along, and interviews could reveal patterns or practices of unlawful policing, prompting the DOJ to negotiate an agreement, known as a consent decree, that would include specific changes and is overseen by a court appointee.

If the city’s police department chooses not to participate, the DOJ has the final word, initiating a federal lawsuit.

The investigations take years.

However, when completed, the publicly available report can be revealing.

In Chicago, citing “systemic deficiencies” that showed the Constitution was often violated, the DOJ found a lack of supervision and “poor discipline” led to officers firing their weapons.

In Memphis, calls for a similar investigation are supported by the president of Memphis’ NAACP and area lawmakers.

In the case of Nichols’ death, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division opened an investigation almost immediately, along with the FBI, to determine whether police violated Nichols’ federal civil rights.

Separately, Mayor Jim Strickland announced a different DOJ office, along with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, will also conduct an investigation, this one, looking at Memphis’ police department.