WARREN - From the city's perspective, the recent visit from the U.S. Justice Department went well and was productive.
However, Warren Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said he prefers not to speculate when it comes to the periodic reviews city police receive from the feds.
"It's really hard to know for sure while they're here. They can make suggestions here or there, but we usually don't know a lot until they issue some report or some finding. I'd rather wait and see what they have to say formally," he explained.
That process could take anywhere from one month to four or five months.
Representatives from the justice department spent the early part of last week in Warren, leaving on Wednesday.
Warren police Chief Eric Merkel said the justice department offered some suggestions and pointed out advances the city police department has made since the last visit.
"We went over some areas like use of force and internal affairs reports," Merkel said.
He declined to elaborate on specifics of the visit.
The regular periodic visits are a result of an agreement between the city and the justice department that requires Warren police to submit data to the federal policing agency periodically. That agreement also required the police department to develop new policies and procedures that addressed appropriate use of force.
The agreement was reached after an investigation into whether use of force by city police was unconstitutional or unlawful. That settlement, filed with the U.S. District Court, was announced in January 2012. The 25-page agreement details numerous issues, including how Warren police will proceed with the treatment of suspects upon arrest, how to handle citizen complaints and training.
The justice department found what it called reasonable cause to believe Warren police engaged "in a pattern or practice of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994."
The investigation was launched in 2004 after several police brutality complaints were filed by people arrested by Warren police and after allegations of illegal police strip searches.
The justice department's investigation involved an in-depth review of police documents and included interviews with patrolmen and community members. The justice department agreed to work with Warren to analyze department operations by reviewing policies and procedures, training and educational practices.
In February, then-police Chief Timothy Bowers said he was confident the department was moving in the right direction.
"We keep working at it and working to be in compliance," Cantalamessa said.