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Justice Department Hires Noble Wray, Retired Chief, to Lead Police Reform Project

The Justice Department said Wednesday it had appointed a retired police chief to run a new project to help police officers improve their relationships with their communities, part of a broader effort to build more trust in American law enforcement.

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Noble Wray, the former chief in Madison, Wisconsin, will lead the Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative, the department announced. He served as a Justice Department consultant in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the August 2014 police shooting of an unarmed black man, helping local authorities confront problems associated with systemic racism.

As chief in Madison, he pushed similar efforts, and his final crisis before leaving the force in 2013 was dealing with an officer's controversial killing of a burglary suspect.

Image: Noble Wray
Madison Police Chief Noble Wray on July 6, 2011, in Madison, Wis. Scott Bauer / AP file

"Chief Wray's background and extensive experience make him the ideal candidate to lead this effort," Ronald Davis, Wray's new boss at the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said in a statement.

Image: President Obama meets with members of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
President Obama with Chairman of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing. SHAWN THEW / EPA

Wray will join the agency as it implements criminal justice reforms proposed by President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The group was assembled as a response to unrest following the shooting in Ferguson and a New York officer's fatal strangling of a suspect.