Published Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 4:45 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 5:24 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Justice commended Metro Police today for taking significant steps to improve its transparency and reform its use-of-force policies to decrease officer-involved shootings.
In November 2012, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) branch completed a collaborative investigation into Metro Police listing 80 recommendations for Metro to cut down on its officer-involved shootings. COPS’ six-month assessment report released today showed Metro has committed to them.
In eight months, Metro has completed 56 of the 80 recommendations, while making progress on 15 others. The remaining recommendations will be reviewed in the one-year assessment, when there is more information on them, COPS Director Joshua Ederheimer said.
“This continued effort is making an impact on the number of officer-involved shootings in Las Vegas,” Ederheimer said in a press release. “A number of positive steps have been taken to improve the practices and policies of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, steps that are increasing safety among officers and the public.”
Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the department is committed to completing all the recommendations it has control over with the main goal of decreasing officer-involved shootings.
Among the changes Metro has made, Ederheimer highlighted its improved use-of-force review board, the installment of reality-based training for officers and increased transparency with the public in releasing an annual statistical report on deadly use of force. Already, the changes have led to a gradual decrease in the department’s officer-involved shootings, the report indicated.
“These significant milestones represent a positive series of reforms that has increased scrutiny, oversight and transparency surrounding officer-involved shootings and use-of-force issues here in Las Vegas,” Ederheimer said today in a press conference.
While several members resigned from the use-of-force review board over a dispute with Gillespie on punishment of officers, Ederheimer said the process is still valid. COPS delayed the six-month release to assess the program after the resignations.
They determined that the process is transparent and comprehensive with a record number of officers held accountable for using force. The dispute was about the severity of punishment, which was within the department’s policies.
COPS will release another comprehensive assessment of Metro at the end of the year.