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Justice department releases new accountability guidance for specialized crime units

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released guidance for specialized police units Tuesday, concluding a yearlong effort started that began after the murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis last January.

Memphis officers of the city’s SCORPION unit beat and killed Nichols after a traffic stop last year. The city later scrapped the SCORPION unit. Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of Nichols’ death.

Five officers were charged with various felonies for the death and were indicted on federal civil rights, conspiracy and obstruction offenses. One officer pleaded guilty to two felony charges in federal court.

The DOJ ordered new guidance after Nichols’ murder, claiming specialized units may be subject to less oversight and transparency. The DOJ also investigated the Memphis Police Department specifically.

“After the tragic death of Tyre Nichols and public scrutiny of the SCORPION unit, we made it a priority at the Justice Department to develop a practical resource for law enforcement and community leaders assessing the use of specialized units in police agencies,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement.

The guidance outlines where and how special units should be formed and how they should be managed.

Nichols’ mother filed a $550 million suit against the Memphis Police Department last year, claiming that its chief was “turning a blind eye” to the SCORPION unit’s “aggressive style of policing,” before the killing.

Attorneys representing the Nichols family said they are “thankful for the diligent work” of the new guidance.

“We hope police departments and chiefs nationwide will strictly adhere to this guidance,” the attorneys said in a statement to ABC24 Memphis. “The unjustified death of Tyre Nichols and the circumstances surrounding that tragedy will not soon be forgotten. As we work to make this country a safer place for everyone, it is critical that we remember our history and learn from it.”

Source: The Hill

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