Officer-involved shootings are one of those things that law enforcement agencies dread to be dealt upon them. There will be questions on the officer’s competency, the agency’s credibility, the investigation’s transparency, and maybe even questions on deeper issues like racial profiling. The media attention and public uproar can be a headache for the agency and a nightmare for the officers involved.
To unpack the nitty-gritty of officer-involved shooting cases is one of Justice Clearinghouse’s favorite legal experts – Rick Hodsdon. Rick is currently an Assistant County Attorney in Stillwater, Minnesota where he represents the county and its criminal justice agencies. He’s been in the legal profession for more than 40 years working in criminal and civil cases in the corrections, prosecution and law enforcement setting.
This session is the first installment of a three-part webinar series where he covered the following topics:
- Some facts highlighting the impact of an officer-involved shooting on the officers and the agencies.
- Factors to take into account when determining who will conduct the investigation for an officer-involved shooting case.
- Practical considerations like the size of the agency entangled in OIS and the availability of an investigating body.
- Historical practices on how OIS tend to be investigated which is commonly geography-based.
- The jurisdiction that looks into the agencies involved during response and the jurisdictional limits.
- Transparency and conflict of interest issues.
- The options and practices that exist when it comes to determining who will investigate an OIS.
- Local agencies requesting the state agencies to assume responsibility for investigations.
- Forming Conduct Integrity Units to police the police.
- Employing the cooperation of other agencies to conduct the investigation for another.
- The changing perceptions on whether using a grand jury provides additional credibility or hinders transparency in an investigation.
- The grand jury as an investigative device that may compel cooperation from possible witnesses or issue investigative reports.
- The common practice of having the state prosecute OIS cases.
- The option to pursue a federal investigation and the penalties made available for violation of civil rights.
- The federal government’s limited involvement in federal civil rights violation investigations.
- The possibility of the federal government to review a case and pursue federal prosecution or indictment and why this isn’t a case of double jeopardy.
Rick provided clarifications for audience questions related to:
- Why advising Miranda Rights in an OIS case is highly unlikely to be required.
- The applicability of concepts discussed to other types of weapons used to inflict harm.
- Investigations for suicide by cop cases.
- Having a chief of police involved in an OIS incident.
- The importance of planning in advance when it comes to determining who will investigate should an OIS incident transpire.
- Keeping the family members of the victims of an OIS incident updated on the investigation process.
- Having civilian members of investigative review boards.
- Discussing how agencies can plan and have an agreement on how to help each other in the event of an officer-involved shooting or use of force incident.
Webinars in this series:
- “Good information to think about and take back and research your local laws, policies, and procedures.” — Truman
- “Rick is a most valuable informed presenter. The thoughts and ideas presented today are universal in nature with all police departments in the democratic world. With democratic freedoms come responsibilities and accountabilities. Significant attention must be directed to create credible processes to deal with public safety initiatives. I agree with Rick about the planning approach so that as events evolve some processes have already been established. It provides significant guidance for agencies.” — Orville
- “A ‘must’ class for every Police Officer.” — Robert
- “Awesome webinar. Thank you.” — Imelda
- “Very much appreciated the tie to trends seen in the area of prosecutions these days and the reasons for them.” — Brittney
- “The information regarding grad juries was very interesting. Mr. Hodsdon was very knowledgeable and had good delivery…nice work.” –Ashley