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St. Anthony PD could be on its own in improving community relations

The Justice Department is changing a program that aimed to help the city improve trust.

The U.S. Department of Justice is making changes to its program that's tasked with reviewing the St. Anthony Police Department. 

The city had requested and was accepted into the Department of Justice's Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance last fall, a few months after former officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile. (Yanez was acquitted of all charges against him, but no longer works for the department.) 

The program, which is done through the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), aims to help cities identify and implement ways to improve trust within the community. 

But on Friday, the Department of Justice announced changes to COPS "to better align the program with the principles outlined by the Attorney General in support of local law enforcement." 

“This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, noting resources will still be provided to local law enforcement agencies to "fight violent crime." 

The Department of Justice's announcement didn't go into a lot of detail about the changes, so it's not exactly clear how it'll affect the review of the St. Anthony Police Department. 

Either way, Police Chief Jon Mangseth told GoMN they're "committed to a technical assessment process that results in specific recommendations for improvement" and they'll "continue to make certain that this process progresses." 

St. Anthony was about 10 months into the 18-24 month review process, the Star Tribune says. The process included a report that was expected to be released in October, the Pioneer Press says. 

The City of Milwaukee was also part of the program. The Journal Sentinel reports the agencies that were currently under review will no longer get federal help to implement reforms when it comes to accountability and trust within the community. 

Instead, the city will get help with tactics to reduce crime, the paper says. 

You can read more about the Collaborative Reform Initiative on St. Anthony's website here

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