MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Department of Justice will launch an “independent and comprehensive assessment” of the Memphis Police Department.
According to the DOJ, the review is being done at the request of Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland.
This will fall under the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
The review, which officials stress is voluntary, will look at the policies, practices, training and interactions with the community.
“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.
Fourteen other agencies are part of this program across the country, according to the DOJ.
The process takes about two years to complete, although an initial report will come in 6-8 months.
“First identifies issues within the department and then start working on specific strategies to build trust within the community,” said DOJ, COPS Noble Wray.
COPS is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.
“Throughout the year, interviews will be conducted with police officers, union officials, command staff, interested citizens as well as community leaders,” said Wray.
“MPD has an opportunity to take part in a transparent process that should improve the practices, strengthen their polices and improve their relationships in the community.”
The COPS program was launched in 1995.
Public meetings will start in November.
We talked with several people in the community and most said they’re looking forward to bridging the gap.
“I think it’s an excellent thing to do because we have a lot of crime in this city but we also have a lot of distrust in law enforcement and we have to try to find someway to bridge that gap,” said Stevie Moore non-violent activist.
“Absolutely and the body cams is the number one step in that direction,” said David Kelley. “You always have two sides to each story but video normally doesn’t lie,”
The Review will focus on two main areas: Community Policing and use of deadly force.
“When you get to know one another, you will have a relationship between the community and police,” said Moore. “I think there’s no better way than to be transparent and explaining this is what happen, this how it happens and this is why it happened.”
“Then I think the tension will be released a little bit,” said Moore.
Both Moore and Felicia Malard told WREG coming together creates a safe environment for everyone.
“They want to go home every night just like I want to go home every night and the community,” said Moore.
“Just keep us safe and as a community we want to keep them safe and we’re going to try to stay positive so nothing bad happens,” said Felicia Malard.
If you would like to voice your concerns, there will be two community listening sessions.
One Nov. 29th from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Mississippi Blvd Christian Church.
The second Nov.30th from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Hickory Hill Community Center.