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DOJ ends MPD police reform program, then starts it again after paperwork is turned in

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Department of Justice ended a police reform program with the Memphis Police Department, only to start again after the city turned in the necessary paperwork.

Shannon Long,  with the DOJ released a statement Friday morning saying, "The COPS Office and the City were not able to execute a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) within a reasonable time period, which limited the work that could be conducted to date.  While several deadlines to provide a signed MOA to the COPS Office were missed, the door remains open and we stand ready to work with the Memphis Police Department to provide other training and technical assistance resources as available and necessary. We will look forward to hearing from the City about ways to discuss how we can help meet their needs."

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was launched last October at the request of Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland.

"The purpose of collaborative reform is to improve trust between agencies and the communities they serve and to provide a means for organizational transformation," said DOJ, COPS Chief Noble Wray at the time it was announced.

“The Department of Justice’s COPS Office will no longer proceed with the collaborative reform process with the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department. The COPS Office has made other technical assistance and training resources available to the Memphis Police Department, and looks forward to exploring those options with representatives of the city and police department. The COPS Office appreciates the leadership of MPD and the City of Memphis for requesting assistance from the Department of Justice and supports their efforts as they continue to move forward and advance community policing and strengthen relationships in their community.”

Friday afternoon, City of Memphis Chief Communications Officer Ursula Madden issued this statement:

“The City of Memphis’ Chief Legal Officer, Bruce McMullen, confirmed Wednesday with acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Larry Laurenzi, an agreement for the City of Memphis to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice's COPS program. The two confirmed a promise that Mayor Jim Strickland would sign the memorandum of agreement today (Friday, March 3).

“As promised, Mayor Strickland signed that MOA this morning.

“We are shocked by the statement released by the COPS program. We have been in constant contact with members of the DOJ and COPS program since October, and have worked in good faith on this collaborative process. We can only attribute this to a miscommunication, and we are ready to move forward with the COPS program.”

The COPS program was launched in 1995.