DOJ Sharply Cuts Scope of Memphis Police Pact

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An agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Memphis Police Department mentioned use of force procedures, training about bias and a commitment to public transparency, but in a new memorandum that language is gone, reports the USA Today Network Tennessee. The new memo signed this month replaces the agreement made earlier this year and comes after the DOJ’s announcement in September of changes to reform initiatives with local law enforcement nationally. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March that all DOJ activities would be reviewed.

The new, shorter memo asks that the police department provide access to relevant department records and data “as appropriate and needed” and includes plans for the DOJ to provide the agency with unspecified “technical assistance resources.” It no longer references officer involved shootings or racial profiling. Earle Fisher, pastor of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, said the memo is watered down and “mostly bark and little to no bite.” Attorney Murray Wells, who represents the father of Darrius Stewart, the 19-year-old killed by former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling in 2015, said the new memo fails to address specific training and how the public can access reports and findings. “It appears to me to be a quick shut down,” he said. Memphis spokeswoman Ursula Madden said the city does not determine or set priorities for the DOJ. “All changes made to the (memorandum) were initiated by the DOJ at its sole discretion,” she said.

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