DOJ to review Memphis police use of force, specialized police units nationwide in wake of Tyre Nichols death
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it will review the Memphis Police Department’s “use of force” policies and specialized police units nationwide following the controversial death of Tyre Nichols.
The notice comes a day after Memphis City Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink told lawmakers that a seventh unidentified Memphis Police Department employee has been fired and an eighth retired before it was advised he be terminated for his role in Nichols’ Jan. 7 arrest, according to The Associated Press.
Five of the officers let go by the department for their involvement in the death of Nichols – who were seen on video beating the 29-year-old – have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other crimes.
“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,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.
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The Memphis Police Department’s specialized “Scorpion Unit,” which was involved in the Nichols incident, was disbanded following his death.
The Justice Department says its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS Office) review of specialized units will produce a guide “for police chiefs and mayors across the country to help them assess the appropriateness of the use of specialized units as well as how to ensure necessary management and oversight of such units, including review of policies, tactics, training, supervision, accountability, and transparency.”
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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis requested the Justice Department’s review of the Tennessee city’s law enforcement, officials say.
That review, the Justice Department says, “will cover policies, practices, training, data and processes related to MPD’s use of force, de-escalation and specialized units.
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At the end of that initiative, the COPS Office also will issue a public report outlining its findings and recommendations.
“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,” COPS Office Director Hugh Clements Jr. said.