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Star For Immediate Release
December 16, 2015

CONTACT: Mary Brandenberger

Department of Justice releases report on Fayetteville Police Department's use of force policies and community engagement

COPS Office releases 49 findings and 76 recommendations to implement best practices at the Fayetteville Police Department

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services today announced the release of its initial report on the Fayetteville Police Department’s policies, training and operations as they relate to use of force and community interaction.

In 2014, Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock requested technical assistance through the COPS Office Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance. The findings and recommendations in the report focus on use of force complaints, policies and procedures; community policing; investigations; oversight and accountability; traffic stops; and community engagement.

“I applaud Chief Medlock for stepping forward to take a more critical look at the Fayetteville Police Department’s use of force policies and interaction with the community,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “Through improved transparency, training, oversight and accountability, and community engagement, I am confident the department will see great improvement in its law enforcement policies. The recommendations presented today benefit not only this department, but can serve as a guide for other police agencies across the country facing similar challenges.”

Included in the report’s 49 findings, the assessment team found that the lack of information-sharing protocols between the FPD and the State Bureau of Investigation significantly hinders the department’s investigative efforts. The report also found that although in decline, racial disparities in traffic stops persist. In addition, the report found that recordkeeping systems tracking citizen and departmental complaints of use of force are insufficient; the FPD’s policy on use of deadly force allows officers to fire warning shots; the department does not track the implementation of its review board recommendations; and the FPD’s overall training strategy fails to consider important community characteristics or emphasize community-oriented policing.

To address these issues, the report prescribes 76 recommendations to help the department improve with respect to the use of force and implement industry best practices. The COPS Office will work with the Fayetteville Police Department over the next 18 months to help them implement these recommendations and will provide two progress reports.

The COPS Office’s training and technical assistance provider for the assessment, CNA, interviewed law enforcement personnel and community stakeholders; observed police training and other activities; conducted site visits and ride-alongs; reviewed departmental policies, memos, training lesson plans, and deadly force investigation files; examined internal documents; and analyzed use of force incidents, traffic stops, field interviews, and complaints.

The report, Collaborative Reform Initiative: Assessment Report on the Fayetteville Police Department, can be found online here

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 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