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Star For Immediate Release
March 22, 2016

CONTACT: Mary Brandenberger

Department of Justice releases initial report on Salinas Police Department's policies and practices

COPS Office releases 61 findings and 110 recommendations to implement best practices at the Salinas Police Department

SALINAS, CALIF. - The Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services today released the initial report of assessment of the Salinas Police Department. In 2015, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin requested participation in the Collaborative Reform for Technical Assistance program. The first step in this program is the initial assessment which is being released today. 

Of the 61 findings outlined in the report, the assessment identified key areas of concern including: 1) officers do not receive regular training on how to effectively respond to individuals with mental health issues, and are not able to maintain their training certification requirements; 2) officers do not receive adequate training on use of force de-escalation, especially with regards to people with mental health issues; 3) there are notable deficiencies with the department's internal complaint (and investigation) process that brings into question the department's ability to hold officers accountable; 4) police and community relations are significantly frayed, and the police department does not appear to fully appreciate this disconnect, and 5) there exists notable deficiencies within internal communications that results in confusion within the ranks and contributes to low morale.

The assessment team also found a majority of officers and command staff are dedicated to the community and to improving the services the department provides.

“I applaud Chief McMillin for stepping forward to take a critical look at the policies and practices within the Salinas Police Department,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “Through the implementation of the report recommendations, I am confident the Salinas Police Department will see great improvement to its agency. The recommendations presented today benefit not only this department, but can serve as a guide for other police agencies across the country.”

To address these and other issues, the report prescribes 110 recommendations to help the department improve its policies and practices, build community trust and implement industry best practices. Those recommendations include that the department increase transparency with the police community advisory committee, increase requirements of first-line supervisors to provide more oversight of and evaluate officers on community policing; involve the community in the development of training plans, complete annual de-escalation training, develop an early warning system for officers, establish a use of force review committee, and use an external, independent agency to investigate all officer involved shootings and in-custody deaths.

The COPS Office will work with the Salinas Police Department over the next 18 months to help them implement these recommendations and will provide two progress reports.

The report, Collaborative Reform Initiative: An Assessment Report on the Salinas 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