DOJ announces voluntary comprehensive review of MPD - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DOJ announces voluntary comprehensive review of MPD

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

The Department of Justice announced it will conduct a comprehensive review of Memphis Police Department through the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS).

The DOJ stressed that Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings asked for the review of the department. Mayor Jim Strickland also pushed for the review. Both said they will welcome the results.

COPS is a program paid for and operated by the federal government. The program lasts two years and is designed to improve trust between police departments and the communities they serve.

COPS Chief Noble Wray explained the COPS process, adding that multiple agencies around the country are undergoing a similar review.

"This process takes about two years. In six to eight months, we will release a report publicly. It will have recommendations specific to Memphis. About six months later, we will release a progress report, and six months later we'll release an assessment at the end of the process," Wray said.

Click here to watch the COPS announcement for yourself.

The process is still fairly new. Only one city has completed the process: Las Vegas.

"Lot of positive things coming out of Vegas...including drop of use of force incidents," Wray said.

Wray also pointed to Philadelphia as a success story. He said the city is still in the COPS program, but Philly has already seen a significant drop in use of force incidents.

At the news conference, Strickland said he has wanted this review since he took office, but wasn't sure where to find it. He said he thinks its a great partnership for Memphis Police Department to strengthen it on every front and build better community relations.

"The great majority of Memphis has trust in MPD, but we want trust of every one of our citizens," Strickland said.

Rallings echoed that sentiment.

"We are fully committed to making a difference in our community. This is one of many steps we're going to do to make that happen," Rallings said. ""We want to improve, and to improve you have to go and get a check up."

U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton added that the process will take time, but it will be beneficial both to the community and the department.

"COPS is not a quick fix or a magic wand or panacea to the challenges that law enforcement faces," Stanton said. "But it is true collaborative form and requires the community to be engaged in the full process, not just on the back end."

Wray said community members will be able to voice their concerns at two community listening sessions.

The first is November 29 at 6 p.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Missionary Baptist Church. The second is November 30 at 5 p.m. at Hickory Hill Community Center.

The attorney for Darrius Stewart's family released the following statement about the DOJ review of MPD.

On behalf of the family of Darrius Stewart and the other families who have lost unarmed loved ones at the hands of the Memphis Police Department, we welcome this comprehensive review of the department's patterns and practices by the Department of Justice. 

We are hopeful that this DOJ review will lead to positive changes within the department and ensure that innocent lives are spared in the future. 

Out of an unspeakable tragedy, our dream is that this review brings hope and healing to the city of Memphis. The family of Darrius Stewart has long said his death would not be in vain.  We're now one step closer to ensuring that becomes reality.   

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