DOJ expands police reform technical assistance services to LE agencies

The new initiative offers three tiers of increasingly intensive support to agencies looking to enact reforms

By Police1 Staff

WASHINGTON — On Friday, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new Collaborative Reform Initiative through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). The initiative will be offered at three tiers of assistance and services to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies that want to make reforms within their organization and would like support doing it. Each level of the initiative’s assistance is completely voluntary by the requesting agency, according to the release.  

“The Justice Department recognizes how much is being asked of law enforcement officers every single day, and we are committed to providing them with the support they need to build the collaboration, trust and legitimacy that is essential to public safety,” said Garland earlier this month. “The Department’s new Collaborative Reform Initiative will provide our law enforcement partners nationwide with the opportunity to request support from a suite of customizable, targeted tools that will shape their capacity to keep communities safe and foster community trust.” 

The initiative will consist of three programs that aim to build trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve; improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness; enhance officer safety and wellness; and develop and disseminate evidence-based, promising and innovative public safety practices. 

The COPS Office outlined the three tiers of support as follows: 

  • The lowest level of support is a continuation of the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC). Established in 2017, CRI-TAC provides a wide range of targeted technical assistance services. Through CRI-TAC’s “by the field, for the field” approach, the DOJ can facilitate customizable, short-term technical assistance on more than 60 topics. Those topics range from gun violence reduction and prevention to officer safety and wellness, to community engagement. Subject matter experts from the field design tailored solutions in collaboration with each agency to address their individual needs.  

  • The middle-tier support is an updated Critical Response program. A law enforcement agency experiencing a high-profile event or other special circumstance, and that determines it could use assistance, will be able to reach out to the COPS Office for help. Like CRI-TAC, this program is customizable and provides flexible assistance to law enforcement agencies in a variety of ways. Once an agency connects with the DOJ, tools will be in place to offer support ranging from after-action reviews to peer-to-peer exchanges, to data analysis and recommendations, to facilitating discussions with experts.  

  • The final and most robust tier is an updated Organizational Assessments program. This program will offer in-depth assessments on systemic issues. Under this program, areas for reform will be addressed with timely, ongoing and actionable guidance. Participating agencies will be provided with the technical assistance they need to accomplish reforms as they are identified. To help ensure transparency and accountability, the DOJ will also routinely report the status of its efforts to the public. This level of support is intensive; it is designed to transform a law enforcement agency’s operation and its relationship with the community. This program is a voluntary opportunity for an agency that knows it needs to make changes and wants to make changes.  

Learn more about the Collaborative Reform Initiative and the above options here.  

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