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August 3, 2015

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Justice Department to release report on Metro Police’s use-of-force policies

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Steve Marcus

Sheriff Doug Gillespie, shown in a file photo, announced Monday, July 9, 2012, a new use-of-force policy for Metro Police.

The U.S. Department of Justice is poised to release its report about Metro Police’s use-of-force policies and practices, culminating an eight-month review of the department.

Bernard Melekian, director of the Justice Department’s COPS Office, will deliver the findings and recommendations at a news conference Thursday morning. COPS stands for Community Oriented Policing Services.

U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and Sheriff Douglas Gillespie will join Melekian, officials said. No other details were released.

Public outcry and calls for reform regarding use of force by Metro officers hit a crescendo with the 2010 police killings of Trevon Cole and Erik Scott. Tension increased in December 2011 after an officer fatally shot Stanley Gibson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran who was unarmed. Gibson’s wife has said he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Justice Department officials said Gillespie approached them in late 2011, seeking guidance about use-of-force issues. Since then, Metro has unveiled a new use-of-force policy, which tightens officers’ ability to use tools such as Tasers and firearms. The policy changes place a greater emphasis on de-escalating — or slowing the momentum of — situations before they rise to the level of needing force.

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