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Monday, January 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: In-House Police Involved Shooting Investigations

     After a [police-involved] shooting, [The Santa Barbara Police Department] policy states that the officer must request a supervisor, additional units and medical personnel, handcuff the suspect [presuming he is not dead], preserve the scene and identify witnesses. Officers cannot discuss the shooting with one another or write about the incident. Instead, the supervisor asks the officer for a description of the outstanding suspects, where the evidence is and what direction shots were fired. Among other duties, the supervisor is there to secure the crime scene and determine whether other suspects are at large and witnesses are being interviewed. He or she is not authorized to inquire about the involved officer's tactics and state of mind, according to the [police] manual. The police chief is the only one authorized to release the officer's identify.

     To the question of who holds police accountable, in Santa Barbara, California, an officer-involved investigation is done internally….

     An administrative investigation follows the [internal] investigation to ensure all department policies were met and to evaluate the officer's civil liability and examine training procedures. At this point, the investigation becomes a human resources issue with information gathered not permissible in court. The administrative investigation is considered a "confidential peace officer personnel file," according to the manual….

     Some bigger cities do have independent [police-involved shooting] oversight. Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have implemented police commissions that include citizen oversight of police matters, especially deadly force issues. Smaller cities with fewer officer-involved incidents, such as Santa Barbara, generally don't….

Alex Kacik, "Overseeing the Overseers," missionandstate.org, January 8, 2014  

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