Department Of Justice In Memphis For Collaborative On Reform With Memphis Police

MEMPHIS, tenn (localmemphis.com) - People with the United States Department of Justice have been in Memphis since Monday, as part of a voluntary review of the Memphis Police Department.

The review, called the collaborative reform initiative, aims to improve trust between police and the community and best practices.

 The DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is behind the initiative.

"Some are out on a ridealongs today. They're having conversations with our police officers. They're having conversations with members of the community, looking at a lot of records. They will be looking at training materials, you know looking at our policies and supervision accountability," said Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings when asked about what DOJ representatives were up to in Memphis.

According to Rallings, the DOJ visit is just part of what will be a long process, a piece of the Collaborative Reform initiatitve the agencies have agreed too.

As Local Memphis initially reported in 2016, Rallings officially requested the reform process on recommendations of former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton made to Mayor Strickland. 

Rallings said he met with DOJ in Washington D.C. last May to discuss the possibility if DOJ would work with MPD on collaborative reforms.

In October 2016, Rallings, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton, and Noble Wray with the COPS  officially announced the review would take place.

"It'll be a deep diving into our training, policies, practices, kind of the model that we're using so that again we are using best practices," said Rallings.

The collaborative reform brings an outside review of how MPD is doing and where improvements are needed. Once the DOJ completes its assessment officials will deliver a report and recommendations. 

"We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make sure that we're reaching out to our community to bridge the gap between police and community and also to make our community safer that is the ultimate goal," said Rallings.

The Director said he met with the DOJ team this week and is looking forward to working together to establish a blueprint for MPD and identify resources to help MPD with training and policy.

DOJ isn't just talking with police.

Three DOJ representatives observed a Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) meeting Thursday, an independent group that investigates people's allegations of police misconduct.

"We really tried to just walk them through our experience working with MPD, working for police reform over the last 7 or 8 years," said Paul Garner, organizing director with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, a group that fought for CLERB.

Garner said he met with DOJ officials this week.

"We've got an open line of communication. We've got a whole lot of information that we're looking forward to sharing with them, that we think will shed some light again to some of the barriers to police accountability and reform here in Memphis, Tennessee," said Garner.

Garner said he is cautiously optimistic about the review but looks forward to seeing what recommendations are made, if they are implemented, how long implementation will take and how much the community is involved in the process.

"We hear a lot of buzz words like community policing, and you know partnerships and all these things, but it's where the rubber meets the road that really matters and people can feel when there's change," said Garner.

Once the DOJ completes its assessment officials will deliver a report and recommendations will be made.

The timeline for the review process is unclear, but Director Rallings believes MPD will be working with DOJ for the next few years.

DOJ declined to comment for this story.

 
 

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