Justice Department Significantly Alters Community Policing Program

September 15, 2017 3:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it is changing the scope of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS) Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance. Instead of COPS offering assistance to police departments that have been identified for excessive use of force and other problems, the program will now only support police departments fighting violent crime.

Kanya Bennett, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, had the following reaction:

“Today’s announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end a program that provides resources to improve police-community relations as we know it is truly appalling. This program was a voluntary and collaborative partnership between the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and local officials that provided police departments with the tools needed to advance practices against excessive force or biased policing.

“The police departments benefiting from these resources included Saint Anthony, Minnesota; North Charleston, South Carolina; and Milwaukee — all places where we witnessed traumatic fatal police shootings and police department failures.

“Attorney General Sessions made the announcement just hours after the public learned of the verdict in the case of yet another Black person dying from excessive police force. Ending the program is a big mistake that will adversely impact communities of color.”

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