A law enforcement team consisting of two North Las Vegas Police Department police officers, one airman from the 99th Security Forces Squadron, one Nevada Highway Patrol officer and one Las Vegas Metro Police Department officer find a simulated casualty at Lomie Heard Elementary School, March 28, 2012, during a Multi Assault Counter Terrorism Action Capabilities exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. After finding the injured person, the team had to escort the victim to a medic while on the look out for two gunmen. (Photo: Staff Sgt. William Coleman via Wikimedia Commons)

The Department of Justice will roll back some Obama-era oversight on local police departments, according to an announcement on Friday.

The Collaborative Reform Initiative of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS office) will be changed to support local law enforcement, and better reflect “the original intent of the authorizing statute,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions in the short announcement.

“Changes to this program will fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability, while still delivering important tailored resources to local law enforcement to fight violent crime,” said Sessions. “This is a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support.”

Specifics of how the Obama-era Collaborative Reform Initiative will change have not yet been released. The COPS office provided an overview to Forensic Magazine which indicates the "technical assistance" will now be based on local requests for help in certain areas - for instance, active-shooter training, gang deterrence, and mass-casualty response. But the DOJ indicated it would return control back to the local agencies, and end the federal oversight that had been implemented at 16 local agencies across the nation.

“These changes will return control to the public safety personnel sworn to protect their communities and focus on providing real-time technical assistance to best address the identified needs of requesting agencies to reduce violent crime,” the DOJ said in its statement.

The DOJ’s civil rights division has conducted investigations of local policing practices. But under the previous administration, the COPS office had expanded its role to perform some of the same functions, issuing public reports of their investigations of various local agencies.

The CRI for Technical Assistance was instituted in 2011 by the DOJ. Sixteen agencies became CRI sites through the beginning of this year. Those agencies spanned a wide variety of size and scale, and geography. For instance, it included the San Francisco and Philadelphia police departments, but also the local agencies in Salinas and Calexico, the latter of which has just 30 officers. The other sites are: the Memphis Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Spokane Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department, the Fayetteville (N.C.) Police Department, the Milwaukee Police Department, the Chester Police Department, the North Charleston Police Department, the Commerce City Police Department, the Fort Pierce Police Department and the Saint Anthony Police Department.

(The Baltimore Police Department was one of the 16, but during its CRI process, the much-publicized death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 occurred while he was in police custody. So the DOJ began a “pattern or practice investigation” and the CRI process was halted. The DOJ separately announced last week it would not bring charges against the six police officers involved in Gray’s arrest and treatment while in custody.)

Often, the CRI began its collaboration with local police brass in response to public pressure and scrutiny. For instance, the Philadelphia initiative (which began in 2013) focused on the use of deadly force over a seven-year period. In Salinas, the fatal police-involved shootings of four Hispanic suspects between March and July 2014 prompted public opposition that, in turn, brought in the federal intervention. The public perception of local corruption is what spurred the CRI involvement in Calexico.

A report summarizing the CRI program at seven of its sites was released on Jan. 17, just three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President. The report claimed that most sites welcomed the recommendations, in part because they provided a visible sense of legitimacy amid public scrutiny.