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DOJ Re-Starts Program Aimed At Voluntary Police Reform

The Justice Department is starting a revamped police reform program asking local law enforcement agencies toy accept federal help voluntarily reducing officer-involved shootings and excessive-force incidents, a move officials hope can produce faster results than previous interventions, the Washington Post reports. Attorney General Merrick Garland is discussing the “Collaborative Reform Initiative” Friday to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives in Baton Rouge. A DOJ official said the strategy is a new model of how the department will work with local police on new policies and better training. The department has budgeted $5 million for it. “This is entirely voluntary, so there will be significant will [from local police] to come in and get this done on the front end,” said the official. "We want to make sure the whole program is transparent, collaborative and able to produce expeditious results and make sure jurisdictions are not left waiting.” The Justice Department has launched sweeping federal investigations into police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix, but those probes require extensive resources and take up to 18 months to complete. Police experts said the collaborative reform program could help local police improve their relationship with the community, while avoiding onerous and costly court-approved consent decrees. The Obama administration launched such an initiative in 2011 in Las Vegas, which produced 75 recommendations over two years. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) offered technical assistance and a nonprofit research firm concluded that the Las Vegas police had made “impressive progress.” The Obama administration expanded the program to at least seven other cities, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and St. Louis, with mixed results. In Baltimore a collaborative agreement in 2014 fell apart after eight months after the death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who was fatally injured in police custody. J

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