Department of Justice Release New Guidance on Specialized Police Units

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Federal Crimes, Felonies |

New Guidance Commissioned in Wake of Memphis Man’s Death at Hands of Police

The Department of Justice released a new guide meant to assist law enforcement agencies oversee and manage special units on the one-year anniversary of the death of Tyre Nicols, who was beaten by five police officers after he fled from a traffic stop and eventually died due to his injuries. All police officers were members of the Memphis Police Department’s “SCORPION” unit, a specialized force meant to target crime suppression, auto theft, and criminal activity. One of the officers has pled guilty for his involvement in the beating/death of Tyre Nicols, with the four other officers set to go to trial later this year.

DOJ Focuses on Four Key Aspects of Any Specialized Unit Formation

The guide centers around what it defines as the four main stages in the creation and implementation of any specialized units; formation, personnel selection and supervision, management and accountability and community engagement. The guide advocates civic leaders not only assess whether such specialized units are even necessary but hope that law enforcement agencies review how members are selected and perhaps setting sunset goals on specialized units to ensure they are only used to tackle ongoing problems. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gup has said, “Our hope is that the guide is going to help law enforcement avoid the bad and sometimes very tragic outcomes we’ve seen from such units including what we saw happen a year ago [with Tyre Nicols].” Such guidance should have effect on police departments across the country as they examine their own specialized units that have become quite common in many areas of law enforcement. Scandals have plagued the Chicago Police Department’s specialized units in recent years that have resulted in millions of dollars of payouts for civil rights violations and dismissal of criminal charges.


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