MEMPHIS, Tenn — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday it is conducting two reviews as the investigation continues into the death of Tyre Nichols.
The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) said one review is related to the Memphis Police Department, and the other will examine the use of specialized units, such as MPD’s now-disbanded SCORPION unit, in law enforcement.
The Justice Department said for the first review, its Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) will look into certain policies and practices of MPD. The review will cover policies, practices, training, data, and processes related to use-of-force, de-escalation, and specialized units at MPD. The DOJ said the review was requested by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief CJ Davis. Once the review is complete, the DOJ said the COPS Office will issue a public report on its findings and recommendations.
The second review is separate from the MPD review. The DOJ said for it, the COPS Office will produce a guide for police chiefs and mayors across the U.S. “to help them assess the appropriateness of the use of specialized units,” and how to “ensure necessary management and oversight of such units, including review of policies, tactics, training, supervision, accountability, and transparency.”
“In the wake of Tyre Nichols’s tragic death, the Justice Department has heard from police chiefs across the country who are assessing the use of specialized units and, where used, appropriate management, oversight and accountability for such units. The COPS Office guide on specialized units will be a critical resource for law enforcement, mayors and community members committed to effective community policing that respects the dignity of community members and keeps people safe,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a news release. “The department is also pleased to be able to fulfill Memphis’s request for technical assistance on the police department’s use of force and de-escalation policies, as well as the use of specialized units.”
“Providing technical assistance to law enforcement agencies so they can continue to improve their practices, while they also develop and maintain healthy relationships with the community, is at the heart of what we do at the COPS Office,” said Director Hugh T. Clements Jr. of the COPS Office. “I know that this opportunity to work with MPD, as well as our examination of specialized units in law enforcement agencies across the country, will be important resources for both law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
Established in 1994, the COPS Office is responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.