DOJ report on Metro includes 75 recommendations, findings - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

DOJ report on Metro includes 75 recommendations, findings

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A report released on Thursday by the Department of Justice (DOJ) makes recommendations concerning the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's use of force policy.

The aim is to curb the number of officer-involved shootings within the department's jurisdiction.

The report details 75 findings and recommendations. The 154-page report concerns everything from police methods to training and suggests some policies are either dated or too cumbersome to be effective in the field.

"I feel strongly that this report can help the Las Vegas Police Department revamp its practice and improve its standing within the community," said Bernard Melekian, director of the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Among the recommendations are more uniform training for officers, better policies with regards to shotguns, rifles and other firearms as well as less lethal weapons such as batons and sprays.

"It is recommended that the department conduct uniform training on the legal parameters of officer-initiated contacts within the department and (initiate) proactive entities such as the gangs unit," said Melekian.

"One of the bigger recommendations that the report suggests is de-escalation training, which, according to its findings, is not required. It has been recommended that the department establish an annual requirement for officers of the rank of sergeant and below to undergo a minimum number of hours of de-escalation training and formalize assessments of de-escalation," Melekian continued.

Other recommendations include implementing a system to manage multi-officer situations in which tactical errors and fatalities are common.

Metro Sheriff Doug Gillespie called the recommendations and findings thorough and fair.

"I think there are a number of specific recommendations on things that we can do as an organization as well as things that we have already done," he said. "You can't be afraid to take a hard look at yourself."

In fact, half of the recommendations and findings have already been addressed by Metro prior to and during the review process.

"The test for us will be what we do with this information today and into the future," Gillespie said.

Richard Boulware with the NAACP said he is disappointed with the findings in the report.

"The recommendations themselves are soft. There are no specifics on how the people should be evaluated or disciplined," he said. "It does not really seem to reflect the community's concerns about the need for accountability and transparency here."

Dane Claussen with the American Civil Liberties Union agrees. He believes the biggest obstacle to cultural change at Metro might come from the police officers union.

"Metro officers are almost never fired in this community for any reason whatsoever as a result of union power and the union contract," he said.

Gillespie said the union has no influence on his police department when it comes to public safety.

"I think the union will look at this report and agree with me that there are 75 recommendations there, and why wouldn't we move forward on those?" Gillespie said.  

The DOJ will follow up on this report in six months from now and again six months after that. The report cost $350,000 to compile and was paid for by the federal government.

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