Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonTwo lives cut too short in vastly different ways Major League Soccer player comes out publicly as gay Congress looks to boost commercial space transport MORE (D-D.C.) said the Justice Department's civil rights investigation of Ferguson is necessary to hold the police there accountable for racial profiling.

Norton said the probe is “essential to get to an apparent history of police action that came to light only with the Michael Brown tragedy.”  

The Justice Department announced Thursday it would open a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Mo., police department. A separate investigation is ongoing as to whether the officer who shot Michael Brown ran counter to civil rights laws.

Norton said the controversy was just one episode in a long history of racial profiling.

“Anecdotal evidence has produced a wealth of information of classic patterns of police misconduct, including discriminatory stops and the detention of blacks in Ferguson,” Norton said. “Such patterns nationwide have been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Justice Statistics report showing that people of color are stopped at rates two to three times that of whites in every region of the country."

In June, Norton offered an amendment to a fiscal 2015 appropriations bill that would deny transportation funding to states that profile based on physical characteristics like race. It was adopted by voice vote after just two minutes of debate.