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California's attorney general investigating KCSO, BPD for possible civil rights violations

FILE -- Bakersfield, Calif., police patrol cars are seen at a crime scene in a KBAK/KBFX file photo.

California's attorney general has opened investigations into the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Bakersfield Police Department for possible civil rights violations.

The investigations are separate and both civil, not criminal, in nature.

Attorney General Kamala Harris' office said the investigations are prompted by data on officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, community complaints and media reports. All of those raise concerns over excessive force and "other serious misconduct."

Harris released the following statement on the investigations:

“Excessive use of force and police misconduct erode and undermine the public’s trust in our law enforcement agencies. These investigations will objectively, impartially, and thoroughly examine whether the Kern County Sheriff’s Office or the Bakersfield Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force or other civil rights violations. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department, as well as with the community, to address any civil rights violations or other issues that we may find during these investigations.”

Anyone who feels they have relevant information for California Department of Justice attorneys and investigators should contact the Civil Rights Enforcement Section via email.

The investigations will be completed within a "reasonable" time frame that accounts for their "comprehensive scope," according to the attorney general's office.

No individual cases at either the KCSO or BPD were cited by the attorney general's office.

The BPD said after it was notified of the investigation Thursday that Chief Lyle Martin will be meeting with official at the state DOJ next month.

“The trust and confidence of the public is vital to the credibility and effectiveness of the Bakersfield Police Department," Martin said in a news release.

The BPD said it will "fully cooperate and collaborate" with investigators.

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