Saturday, August 20, 2016


Many law enforcement agencies have rules requiring that the agency wait 48, or in some cases 72, hours to interview the officers involved in a shooting. Note that no ordinary suspect is given such consideration.
See this article:

For years, departments in [Albuquerque N.M. and Arlington TX] and states like Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin have required a waiting period of at least two days. In Dallas, 72 hours must pass. In Baltimore, where six police officers have been charged for their involvement in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a union contract compels cops to wait 10 days before speaking with investigators.
In the aftermath of controversial police shootings, from Michael Brown to Tamir Rice and Samuel Dubose, the public has repeatedly seen that an officer's account—"I almost got run over by the car" or "I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan"—can have big implications for a case, swaying internal investigators, prosecutors, and grand juries as they determine whether a police shooting was legal or justified. It is unsurprising, then, that over the past year the question of how long officers should wait before giving their accounts has been fiercely debated. Policing experts have raised a number of issues, . . .  Local officials and union attorneys who embrace the so-called 48-hour rule say stress can interfere with an officer's ability to recall details. "The science behind how people remember things, particularly those that are involved in a high-stress, adrenaline-infused situation, has shown that memories can often be inaccurate if they are immediate," Sean Smoot, a police union attorney who represents officers in Illinois, testified to the US Commission on Civil Rights in April. . . . delay could give officers an opportunity to review video or "consult with their peers who were involved before they ever give a statement." Walter Katz, a Los Angeles-based attorney focusing on police accountability, told me that "there's always the concern about either contamination or having statements which are essentially fabricated." And McGinn and others have asked if the delays amount to special treatment a regular citizen wouldn't be afforded. (Union officials have pointed out that due process for ordinary civilians does not provide enough protection for law enforcement officers.) In the fragile atmosphere that tends to follow police shootings, such suspicions could well corrode public trust.
What's more, rules delaying interviews also overlook the fact that officers may prefer to get their interviews out of the way, says David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "In the absence of sound scientific evidence, why make [or allow] them wait?"  [the waiting period serves the interests of police, police unions, attorneys who represent officers, and consultants and experts who get money from the above.]

These delay rules must go.  There is little scientific evidence supporting the delay rules. Most of the evidence suggests the rules are a bad idea for recall.  Why not both interview them immediately and then re-interview 48-72 hours later?
The delay is advocated by many police officers, police unions, attorneys who defend police, experts who consult and testify for police and police organizations, and Chiefs who don't want any scandals coming out.  A number of groups have called for abolition of the rule.

Dallas PD's Chief has gotten rid of the delay rule. Thank you Chief Brown. Transparency, fairness and public trust require it.

"This is why Dallas Police Chief David Brown's policy change to give officers a 72-hour delay before answering questions about a shooting never quite registered — and why it's good that he discontinued it.

In November 2013, Brown had said that any Dallas officer involved in a shooting, even as a witness, could stay silent for 72 hours. And before giving a statement, officers could view any available video. Obviously, this would delay any investigation by three days, since no such investigation could be complete without officer statements.

Worse, it gave the impression that department policy put a thumb on the scale for officers, giving them an undue advantage in conforming their statements to available facts and, in cases of multiple officers, making sure their accounts did not contradict.

This is almost never the case when it's the police arresting non-officers accused of killing someone.

This policy change came to light about a month after a Dallas officer was caught giving, let's say, a dubious account of a shooting. Officer Cardan Spencer was accused of shooting a mentally ill man, Bobby Bennett, outside a home in the Rylie neighborhood. Officer Christopher Watson, Spencer's partner, told investigators that Bennett took steps toward the officers with a knife raised.

Bennett survived his shooting and was charged with aggravated assault of a public servant. That was until a neighbor's surveillance video appeared; Bennett did have a knife, but he initially rolled away from officers in a swivel chair. When he stood up, he kept his hands at his side and never moved his feet.

Brown ordered charges against Bennett dropped and fired Spencer, who was subsequently indicted by a Dallas County grand jury. Watson was suspended for 15 days for giving a false statement.

Spencer deserves his day in court, but the neighbor's video left little doubt that Bennett was a victim in this drama. Spencer also was the first Dallas police officer indicted on shooting-related charges in four decades.

Would Brown have instituted the 72-hour policy without the surveillance video? It's impossible to say for certain, but his decision to cede now to this demand from the Next Generation Action Network makes sense. That group is agitating for further reforms from a Dallas Police Department already leading the way in this area, but that doesn't make the group wrong on this issue."



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