St. Anthony city officials on Friday released the goal and objectives of a two-year federal assessment of its police department sparked by last year’s fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
It’s the first public document published as part of a review by the U.S. Justice Department’s office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Federal officials have said that the results could serve as a blueprint for small departments across the nation.
“The COPS Office feels that these objectives represent the most pressing issues heard and observed,” said a statement issued by the city Friday.
The goal is to “assess, monitor, and assist the SAPD [St. Anthony Police Department], in concert with the community, in the implementation and sustainment of reforms that improve community-oriented policing practices,” according to the document published on the city’s and U.S. DOJ’s websites.
Improving transparency, accountability and public trust were also listed as part of the goal.
“It’s not always easy to be assessed,” said Police Chief Jon Mangseth, “but … I think anything that we have to do as part of this … will be well worth it when we get those recommendations and offers for technical assistance.”
City officials applied to the federal program after one of its officers, Jeronimo Yanez, fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Yanez is scheduled to stand trial on felony manslaughter charges in May.
The department has a total of 23 sworn officers and 14 reserve officers and provides services for Falcon Heights and Lauderdale.
Mangseth said that federal officials spent the last three months gathering input from the public and stakeholders, going on ride-alongs with officers and collecting data.
The next step, the chief said, will involve analyzing the data.
Several objectives outlined Friday include: assessing the department’s policies, practices and training as they relate to traffic stops; analyzing patterns in vehicle and pedestrian stops, and looking at the department’s training in regards to community policing.
Other objectives involve assessing hiring and recruitment practices — and their impact on diversity — and examining how officers are held accountable for their actions.
“The COPS Office will continually review these objectives to ensure they are meeting the needs of the department and the communities,” the city’s statement said.
The announcement comes four days after the COPS Office released its report on Minneapolis police’s response to the 18-day occupation of a north Minneapolis police station after the death of Jamar Clark. That report said a breakdown in communication hindered police efforts, while it also lauded restraint to keep the situation from escalating.
At a December news conference about the St. Anthony effort, COPS Office Director Ronald Davis provided a general outline of the review process: Federal authorities will spend eight to 10 months working with experts to analyze the department.
The office will issue a public report on its findings and then spend the next 18 months working with the city to implement changes. Two progress reports will be issued.
“I think the goals and objectives are worth the straightforward, hard look at this department as a whole,” Mangseth said.
Yanez, 29, was charged Nov. 16 with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm in the death of Castile, 32, and for endangering Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter, who were in the car.
Yanez has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A motion hearing is scheduled for April 4, and a trial has been set for May 30.