The Justice Department just ended a review of the Memphis Police Department with no explanation

Memphis Police Department.
(Image credit: Chris Desmond/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it is ending its review of the Memphis Police Department, which was requested last year by the city's Democratic mayor and police director. "The Department of Justice's [Office of Community Oriented Policing Services] will no longer proceed with the collaborative reform process with the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department," the official statement read. It did not include an explanation for why the review was being halted.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has, in the past, questioned policy reports published by the DOJ, calling "some" investigations into the police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, "pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based."

"You have 800,000 police in America, imagine a city of 800,000 people," Sessions said last month. "There's going to be some crime in it, some people are going to make errors."

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The review of the Memphis Police Department was expected to take two years and began last October under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While there wasn't one single incident that led to the review, The Commercial Appeal reports:

... U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III mentioned a reform initiative last year after a federal review of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black man by a white police officer in 2015.The Justice Department review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support charges against former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling in the death of Darrius Stewart. Schilling shot Stewart twice during a fight that began when Schilling tried to arrest Stewart on an active warrant at a traffic stop. [The Commercial Appeal]

There has also been talk of the White House eliminating the COPS program, which supports police departments around the country. It is not clear if the end of the Memphis review is related to the possible end of the COPS program as a whole. The DOJ said COPS would still provide training resources and technical assistance to the Memphis police.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.