The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services said the Fayetteville Police Department must continue to make changes to its policies,
training and operations as they relate to use of force and community interaction.
A 120-page report of the DOJ’s investigation of the department recommends dozens of changes in policy and training. Police Chief Harold Medlock requested technical assistance from the Department of Justice in early 2014.
Among the report’s 49 findings, the assessment team found that a lack of information-sharing between the FPD and the State Bureau of Investigation significantly hinders the department’s investigative efforts. The report also found that, although in decline, racial disparities in traffic stops persist. Further, the report found that record-keeping of citizen complaints is insufficient, and the department’s overall training strategy fails to emphasize community-oriented policing.
“I applaud Chief Medlock for stepping forward to take a more critical look at the Fayetteville Police Department’s use-of-force policies and interaction with the community,” said COPS Director Ronald Davis. “I am confident the department will see great improvement in its law enforcement policies.”
The report outlines 76 recommendations with respect to the department’s use-of- force policy.
Fayetteville “was a community of concern” said City Manager Ted Voorhees when Chief Medlock asked for assistance. There was “a history in our city of disconnected attitudes” according to Medlock. Allegations of racial profiling and officer-involved shootings have been significantly reduced in the last three years. The COPS Office will work with the Fayetteville Police Department over the next 18 months to help it implement the recommendations, and will provide two progress reports.
Research done by the Department of Justice in reviewing departmental policies and procedures focused on the years 2013 and 2014 — Medlock’s first two years on the job. A dozen officer-involved shootings had occurred in the three years prior to Medlock’s hiring, according to department records. There have been only two since then, and in both cases, officers were shot.
Traffic stops involving African-American male drivers were historically four times more frequent than whites, according to North Carolina Department of Justice data. The new report notes that racial disparities in motor vehicle stops are in decline. One reason for that is the police chief’s order prohibiting traffic stops for minor regulatory violations.
“It is our hope that this report can serve as a guide to police departments and communities across the country,” said COPS Director Davis. He acknowledges that since becoming chief in February of 2013, Medlock has made a number of organizational changes and requires that all officers attend training on fair and impartial policing. The Department of Justice report is available to the public for review. For more information on the department and its initiatives, visit www.bethebadge.com.