Federal officials are going to review how the St. Anthony Police Department interacts with the community following the death of Philando Castile.
The City St. Anthony had requested to be part of the Department of Justice's Collaborative Reform Initiative – a program that aims to help cities implement ways to improve trust within the community – back in October.
That was a few months after St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop. (Yanez has been charged with manslaughter in the July 6 incident, but his attorneys are requesting the charges be dropped.)
And on Thursday, the Department of Justice said it accepted St. Anthony into the program, and launched an "independent and comprehensive assessment," a news release says.
The DOJ will look at the police department's policies regarding how its officers interact with the public and conduct traffic stops, as well as its recruitment and hiring process.
“The findings and recommendations from this assessment will enable the department and the community to work together to hold the department accountable to the best standards of the law enforcement profession," Ronald Davis, who directs the program, said in a statement.
The DOJ will assess the police department and release a report on its findings, along with recommendations for the department based on the best practices in 21st Century Policing. Then, for the next 18 months, the DOJ will work with the police department to implement the recommendations, and eventually release a progress and final report.
The St. Anthony Police Department is the 16th agency to be accepted into the DOJ's collaborative reform process, the release says.
The lawyers for Valerie Castile – Philando's mother – issued a statement Thursday night saying they're pleased with having an independent review by the Department of Justice.
"Any measures that can stop tragic occurrences and promote proper police practices for all communities is a critical step in the right direction,” the statement reads.
More on the Collaborative Reform Initiative
The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) works to advance community policing nationwide with several programs that are geared toward providing technical assistance to police departments that are looking to get better.
One of those programs is what the City of St. Anthony was accepted into. The Collaborative Reform Initiative has worked with several other cities that have had to deal with community trust issues in the wake of officer-involved shootings.
Among them: the St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri; the Baltimore Police Department; and the Milwaukee Police Department.
Since 1995, COPS has invested $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, including some in Minnesota.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice said the COPS Critical Response Technical Assistance program would look into how the City of Minneapolis responded to protests following the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in November 2015.