DOJ Review of MN Police May Guide Smaller Departments

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Federal authorities will spend at least the next two years auditing and improving the practices and policies of the St. Anthony Police Department in suburban Minneapolis in hopes of creating a model for law enforcement, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. St. Anthony  officials requested intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice after one of its officers, Jeronimo Yanez, fatally shot Philando Castile during a July 6 traffic stop. The voluntary move makes the city the 16th department — and the smallest — to be studied by the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). “The city is asking us to be very critical, knowing that we will be very independent, objective and critical of the operations,” said COPS director Ronald Davis. “I like to say the truth can hurt, but selective ignorance is fatal. So, the chief and mayors are willing to be told the hard truths about what’s working and what’s not working in the department.”

Davis announced the audit yesterday. It will look at issues such as traffic stops, recruitment, police use of force, and the department’s internal system for addressing complaints, Davis said. The audit, called the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, will not investigate individual incidents or officers. The program recently released a 300-page report with 272 recommendations for San Francisco police. Federal authorities will spend the next eight to 10 months working with experts to analyze the department. That will include a review of department policies, thousands of pages of documents, ride-alongs, listening sessions with the public, and conversations with police officers. The results for St. Anthony, which has 23 sworn officers, according to the city’s website, could serve as a national guide since 75 percent of all police departments across the country have 25 or fewer officers, Davis said.

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