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Star For Immediate Release
October 2, 2015

CONTACT: Mary Brandenberger
mary.brandenberger@usdoj.gov
202-514-5328


U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services releases initial assessment of St. Louis County Police Department

COPS Office releases 50 findings and 109 recommendations to implement best practices at the St. Louis County Police Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services today announced the release of its initial report on the St. Louis County Police Department's policies and practices as part of its collaborative reform initiative. The report focuses on a review of recruitment practices, training, handling mass protests, traffic enforcement stops, use-of-force and community engagement.

In 2014, St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar requested the assistance of the COPS Office in identifying ways it could improve its relationship with the community.

“I applaud Chief Belmar's leadership in making the decision to pursue collaborative reform,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “It takes a certain level of courage and a high level of commitment to expose your agency to such a comprehensive review, especially knowing that any and all shortcomings identified will be made public. But it is this type of review that ensures we learn from both our successes and setbacks as we continually improve our operations.”

The COPS Office's technical assistance provider for the assessment, the Police Foundation, reviewed hundreds of departmental policies, manuals and training plans; conducted more than 200 interviews, focus groups and meetings with community members and police civilian and sworn staff; and directly observed police operations.

Through its 50 findings, the assessment identified policy, training and operational deficiencies in addition to a lack of trust between some sections of the community and the department. The assessment team found that there are deficiencies in the department's recruitment and hiring practices; the department provides insufficient training hours to community engagement, diversity and community policing during basic recruit and in-service training; the department does not invest sufficient resources in community engagement and problem solving; the department does not thoroughly investigate the use of deadly force in all situations; there are significant statistical racial disparities in stops and searches that warrant further investigation by the department; and the department does not have policies or training to ensure de-escalation options are exhausted before using tactical responses in mass protests and demonstrations.

To address these issues, the report prescribes 109 recommendations to help the department improve with respect to industry best practices. The COPS Office will work with the St. Louis County Police Department to help implement these recommendations and will provide two subsequent progress reports.

The report, Collaborative Reform Initiative: An Assessment of the St. Louis County Police Department, can be found online here: http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P316.

The assessment was administered as part of the COPS Office's Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, designed to provide technical assistance to agencies facing significant law enforcement-related issues. Using subject matter experts, interviews and direct observations, as well as conducting extensive research and analysis, the COPS Office assists law enforcement agencies with enhancing and improving their policies and procedures, their operating systems and their professional culture. The COPS Office can issue a series of recommendations and be instrumental in assisting agencies with the implementation of those recommendations.

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.

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