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DOJ To Review St. Anthony Police, Help Rebuild Trust

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Department of Justice wants a better idea of how the St. Anthony Police Department does business.

It announced Thursday that it will conduct a comprehensive review of the agency in the wake of Philando Castile's death.

The black man was shot and killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez after a traffic stop in July. Yanez has been charged with manslaughter.

However, the federal government says it will shift the focus from the the officer's actions that night. Instead, the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program will provide an outside, objective review of the department.

"This is not an investigation," said Ronald Davis, the director of COPS. "We're not investigating the St. Anthony Police Department."

The federal review comes following a request St. Anthony made months ago to maintain trust with community members.

"To do that, we immediately became aware that we needed help from a highly-regarded entity that could provide proactive technical assistance, assessment tools, guidance and recommendations in order for us to serve our communities better," said St. Anthony Chief Jon Mangseth.

For the next 8 to 10 months, police experts will review traffic stop data, hiring practices and hold listening sessions with residents.

The process won't focus on individual police officers or the Philando Castile case directly.

"At the end of the process, you're going to have a premier, 21st century police department that will be a model for the country," Davis said.

St. Anthony is the 16th city to request such a review.

The department's goal is to improve strained relationships with the community following two high-profile police shootings in the Twin Cities – that of Castile in Falcon Heights and Jamar Clark in Minneapolis.

When WCCO-TV reviewed St. Anthony Police Departments traffic stops, we found the department stopped black drivers about two and a half to three times as often as white drivers in about a year's time.

Community listening sessions are scheduled to begin in St. Anthony next month. A schedule of the sessions is available here.

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