MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CN) — The Justice Department said Wednesday that it will launch a comprehensive assessment of the Memphis Police Department as part of a reform initiative.
Memphis Police Department Director of Police Services Michael Rallings requested the review of the department's policies, practices and training, according to the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS Office.
Noble Wray, policing practices and accountability initiative chief for the COPS Office, said he applauds "the progressive leadership of the Memphis Police Department for taking steps to improve operations."
"The COPS Office will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the department and recommend opportunities for change, paving the way for the Memphis Police Department to become a leader in the industry," Wray said in a statement.
The COPS Office says it uses experts, interviews, direct observations, extensive research and analysis to help law enforcement agencies improve policies and procedures.
After assessing the situation, it will release a report outlining findings and recommendations. For 18 months after that, the COPS Office will help implement the changes before issuing a final report.
The Memphis Police Department has come under fire for its alleged use of excessive force. In March, the Sixth Circuit ruled that former director Toney Armstrong must face claims that he "rubber stamped" police shootings and sent the message that people "are being killed by design."
The underlying case was brought by the family of Anjustine Vanterpool, a 28-year-old black man who was shot and killed by two Memphis cops at a gas station in April 2013. His family claims Armstrong perpetuated a custom and pattern of exonerating officers who used excessive force.
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