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August 21, 2014

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Justice Department to release report on Metro Police’s use-of-force policies

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Steve Marcus

Sheriff Doug Gillespie, shown in a file photo, announced Monday, July 9, 2012, a new use-of-force policy for Metro Police.

The U.S. Department of Justice is poised to release its report about Metro Police’s use-of-force policies and practices, culminating an eight-month review of the department.

Bernard Melekian, director of the Justice Department’s COPS Office, will deliver the findings and recommendations at a news conference Thursday morning. COPS stands for Community Oriented Policing Services.

U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and Sheriff Douglas Gillespie will join Melekian, officials said. No other details were released.

Public outcry and calls for reform regarding use of force by Metro officers hit a crescendo with the 2010 police killings of Trevon Cole and Erik Scott. Tension increased in December 2011 after an officer fatally shot Stanley Gibson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran who was unarmed. Gibson’s wife has said he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Justice Department officials said Gillespie approached them in late 2011, seeking guidance about use-of-force issues. Since then, Metro has unveiled a new use-of-force policy, which tightens officers’ ability to use tools such as Tasers and firearms. The policy changes place a greater emphasis on de-escalating — or slowing the momentum of — situations before they rise to the level of needing force.

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  1. @Rebel Jedi..,,"The use of force policies by metro have been better than most any department."

    Says who? You? Metro? Too bad because the DOJ doesn't agree.

    "At the end of the day deadly force use by police is still...and always will be...dictated by the suspect. Anyone that argues that is just ignorant."

    Funny how you label those who disagree with your foolish, unsophisticated belief as "ignorant" when your statement fits the definition of ignorance.

    In order to believe that the suspect always dictates the use of force you have to believe that a police officer is NEVER wrong--even INCAPABLE of doing wrong. What a makes your viewpoint even more absurd is the fact that in the same post you implied police are easily confused and how policies should be kept as simple as possible so they can better understand them.

  2. It is not uncommon for larger police departments to have 'friendly fire' incidents. One example would be a uniformed officer shooting a plainclothes officer because he perceives him as a threat and is not identified/recognized as another officer.

    If the officer who is shot happens to survive and tells the story that he did NOTHING to provoke or justify the use of deadly force - then what? They are both police officers. Are we wrong to stop, even for a moment, and think that this could be a bad shooting? I don't think the citizens are asking for much more than this important reflection on the situation.

    Worse yet...put your loved one (how about your brother) in the scenario. He has a lawful firearm on his hip under a coat as he shops in a store. Security calls in the 'gun'. Your 'brother' walks out and uniformed officers are screaming at him to do this or do that. He makes the wrong move and gets blasted...but he had a 'gun' so he is automatically in the wrong?

    If we put one of our own loved ones in the scenario (a fatal shooting or even a fatal pursuit that should have been discontinues and kills a non-pursued citizen-your brother) then we should understand why it is important to have a complete and objective investigation of the situation.

    The problem with Sheriff Gillespie's department is that even if the review of a fatal incident is done in a totally professional manner...how many citizens TRUST what they are told?

    Anyone reading about some of the shootings in the R-J Series - Deadly Force would have to conclude that something stinks with the system---

    And for weeks or months to go by after a shooting and the officer is only required to give a 'public safety statement' is crazy. If you want to wear a badge then talk to a D.A. investigator and tell him/her why you used deadly force. Wolfson can then start determining if the elements of the crime exist (i.e., malice - or negligence).

    Sheriff Gillespie can do the internal investigation with his various acronym units later - after the public is given some answers and starts to trust the hundreds and hundreds of professionals who still wear the badge for the LVMPD.