The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, confirms it is investigating the East Haven Police Department.
Working off of allegations of racial discrimination by police, the investigation is "to determine whether a pattern or practice of discriminatory police practices exists," explained department spokesman Alejandro Miyar.
The DOJ's civil rights division typically opens fewer than a dozen of these investigations a year.
A boiling point came in February when the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven took out a video camera and started rolling on two officers allegedly harassing a town shop owner who is of Latino decent. The pastor, Father James Manship, was arrested because, according to a police report, an officer saw an "unknown shiny silver object".
The video footage, shown on the New Haven Independent, revealed that the officers knew it was a video camera.
On the news of the investigation, Angel Fernandez of the St. Rose pastoral council said: "These are credible stories that have been vetted by the church, by the lawyers and by everybody else and it is clear with the investigation being launched that the Department of Justice agrees that they're credible."
It is a civil investigation, not criminal, meaning no one will go to jail over this investigation (there is a separate division that would handle that if it ever came to that). "Typically in these cases we will seek either a settlement or initiate a lawsuit depending on the results of the investigation," said Miyar with the Justice Department.
"These investigation can take some time," he added.
Calls to the East Haven mayor and police department have not been returned.