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Getting Answers: Does Sacramento have a specialized police unit like Memphis unit that killed Tyre Nichols?

Does Sacramento have a specialized police unit like the Memphis unit that killed Tyre Nichols?
Does Sacramento have a specialized police unit like the Memphis unit that killed Tyre Nichols? 03:01

SACRAMENTO -- The five officers charged with second-degree murder for the death of Sacramento native Tyre Nichols were part of the now-disbanded "Scorpion Unit" within the Memphis Police Department. The specialized unit was short for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, but complaints about excessive policing rolled in shortly after its inception. 

In the weeks now following Nichols' death, CBS13 viewers asked if police departments within the Sacramento region utilized a similar specialized unit for patrolling. In Stockton, there's no such group. In areas with multiple incidents, a spokesperson told CBS13 it's an "all hands on deck" approach, meaning no one unit is responsible and all are responsible when on shift. 

In Sacramento, there are teams that focus on specific subjects like gang intervention or apprehending known wanted criminal suspects. These groups, a spokesperson told CBS13, have the same oversight as any other within the department and do not operate in a bubble. Where they differ from the Memphis specialized unit is no officers patrol "high crime" or hot spot areas of town without a data-driven understanding of where and what is going on. 

Sacramento Police Department's three Gang Enforcement Teams (GET) are assigned to each of the department's substations. Detectives are also assigned to the Gang Investigations Unit, which works with GETs. In order to work in these positions, a spokesperson said there is a "rigorous internal vetting process" that includes "an oral interview with three supervisors, a resume review, a performance review, candidate peer reviews, and a review of the candidates' personnel and internal affairs files." 

All officers at the Sacramento Police Department receive training in Procedural Justice, Racial Profiling, Implicit Bias, De-escalation Techniques, Crisis Intervention Techniques, the Critical Decision Making Model, and Cultural Competency. Officers and detectives assigned to our various gang units receive additional training on topics such as gang case law, legal updates, search and seizure, gang awareness, gun and violent crime investigations, and the California STEP Act. Moreover, the Sacramento Police Department positions gang teams in affected areas of the city in response to the ongoing violence that has plagued Sacramento for decades, as most recently witnessed in the 2022 K Street Shooting, amongst others. 

- Sacramento Police Department Spokesperson, Zach Eaton 

As part of the approach for policing comes partnerships with community groups like Brother 2 Brother, a mentorship program in Sacramento based in Del Paso Heights. The founder of the organization, Mervin Brookins, told CBS13 that in the last few years, there's been a change within the Sacramento Police Department, where now, community groups are not only invited to the table but are involved in the implementation of ideas to improve the communities the department serves. 

"It's never through specialized policing units. Change happens from the bottom up — genuine and lasting change by empowering people of the community to lift themselves up," said Brookins. 

Brookins said Sacramento's changes stemmed from the shooting death of Stephon Clark in 2018. Now, he said, there are conversations with Sacramento police and community groups on the ground more often. That, he explained, is good news for Sacramento. 

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