Metro Police did not regularly analyze its use-of-force incidents, resulting in inadequacies in officer training and overall accountability, according to a 154-page report released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The report, eight months in the making by Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, includes 35 findings and 40 subsequent recommendations, which Justice Department officials say will reduce officer-involved shootings and -- if Metro institutes those recommendations. The report findings were released in a news conference at Metro headquarters.
Although Metro is under no legal requirement to accept the recommendations, the COPS Office will review Metro's progress in six months and again in one year. Officials, however, were vague about what measures would be used to review the department's progress.
"I am not afraid of this report, nor were (officers) afraid of this report," Sheriff Mike Gillespie told the assembled media, noting the true judgment of the department will come in the months that follow.
Among other things, the report found Metro's new use-of-force policy was "comprehensive" but "cumbersome" and that it should be split into smaller segments, making it more easily understandable for officers in the field.
Metro's Use of Force Review Board -- currently a mix of residents and department personnel -- needs revamping because of procedures the COPS Office found "outdated and insufficient." To remedy the situation, the report recommends Metro create a stand-alone manual for the its board, which would contain operating procedures, its purpose and clarify roles of the board's members.
The report also found the department did not provide enough training about de-escalation tactics and that it needed to better manage situations involving multiple officers on scene. The report recommends an array of training improvements, such as more reality-based training opportunities.
In addition, Metro should provide more information to the community after an officer-involved shooting, the report suggested.
"The challenges facing this organization are not unique," said Bernard Melekian, director of the COPS Office. He hopes the report can be used as a model for agencies across the country experiencing similar issues.
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Copyright 2012 - Las Vegas Sun
McClatchy-Tribune News Service