Key moments in fatal Pasco police shooting case
The federal Department of Justice said Thursday that it has completed its community oriented policing services program with the Pasco Police Department.
Pasco police Chief Bob Metzger said in a news release that his department has been working on the DOJ’s recommendations made in 2016. Some items include:
- Obtaining state accreditation, which means the department has a review process for best practices and standards.
- Using social media to improve communication with the community.
- Expanding recruiting to include individuals who “appreciate serving and reflect diverse communities,” Metzger said. The efforts have brought in more woman and Latino officers, as well as increased bilingual staff by 50 percent.
- Having all patrol officers use body cameras.
The program’s deputy director, Robert Chapman, said the department is “making great strides” toward improving the relationship it has with Pasco residents.
Chapman highlighted Pasco police’s “actively engaging with the community through social media in an impressive manner” and “becoming a standout agency” for its online presence.
Pasco police asked for the help after the fatal police shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes February 2015. Local, state and federal prosecutors cleared the officers in that shooting of any wrongdoing, but Metzger and U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby still requested federal help.
DOJ made several findings, including a community perception that Pasco police were in denial about the challenges stemming from the shooting. Justice officials also said Pasco police needed to better train officers in use-of-force and hire a more diverse police force —especially Latinos.
Leo Perales, who remains involved in Consejo Latino, said that he’s “very happy” with the changes made so far.
“Pasco Police Department has been one of the model police departments not just in the state, but in the nation,” Perales said. “I wouldn’t have said that two years ago.”
Perales specifically pointed to the department’s revised use-of-force policy, which has not yet released to the public. Perales said he has seen it and called it “a dramatic change.”
Community involvement has been key during the past two years, and Perales credited Metzger for his work.
“You’re starting to see the relationship heal a bit,” Perales said, adding that while there are improvements yet to be made, it’s going to take both of side to iron out the remaining rough parts.
Jake Dorsey: 509-582-1405