Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2014

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Federal program that spurred overhaul of Metro policies will be used in Ferguson

A federal program launched in Las Vegas that led to an overhaul of Metro Police's use-of-force policies will be used to address policing concerns in Ferguson, Mo., Justice Department officials announced today.

The program, dubbed the Collaborative Reform Initiative, will investigate operations at the St. Louis County Police Department. A separate civil rights probe, meanwhile, will examine allegations of unlawful policing by the Ferguson Police Department.

The Collaborative Reform Initiative was created in 2011 in response to public concern about a series of deadly police shootings in Las Vegas. Metro voluntarily worked with Justice Department officials and completed the program, adopting 75 recommendations from the feds. As a result, Metro created an internal oversight office, retrained officers to emphasize negotiation techniques and created a new plan to release public information more quickly.

“There were many important lessons that we learned as an organization during that time,” Assistant Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who oversees the department's patrol division, said in a statement. “These lessons were applied when we responded to the tense situation in Bunkerville recently and every day by our officers when they come across conflicts with armed and unarmed citizens.”

The Justice Department has since implemented the program in other jurisdictions; today it is working with the Philadelphia and Spokane, Wash., police departments to carry out the process.

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