A Louisville commission responsible for ensuring the integrity of police investigations into officers’ use of deadly force may recommend that an outside person or organization take part in the investigations.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that more than half of the 10 members at yesterday’s meeting of the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability said the idea of an outside reviewer is a way to alleviate public suspicion and to build confidence in the Louisville Metro Police.
The commission, appointed in March by Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, has spent five months looking into the Dec. 5, 2002, death of James Taylor, a handcuffed suspect who was shot 11 times by a detective. Police said Taylor had lunged at the officer and his partner with a box-cutter knife in his hands when he was shot. A grand jury declined to indict either detective, and they were not reprimanded.
Officer David James, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who is not a member of the commission, said in an interview that some police officers would see any independent investigator as an attack on their integrity. He questioned the feasibility of having an independent entity involved in investigations.
The Courier-Journal said the commission voted on several recommendations yesterday. They included:
* Requiring officers involved in a fatal shooting to be tested immediately for drugs and alcohol.
* Requiring officers’ work histories, specifically incidents involving excessive force, to be considered as part of investigations.
* Requiring investigators to consider any prior relationships among officers, witnesses and others involved in a shooting investigation.
* Calling for the police chief to issue a document outlining the circumstances under which deadly force is justified, and urging the use of deadly force as “an option of last resort.” Chief Robert White issued a use-of-force policy in April.
* Requiring the police department to train officers on how to use nonlethal and less-lethal force in handling people with weapons.
* Having the department develop a checklist of steps to be followed in a shooting investigation.