For the second time in four years, the Los Angeles Police Department has reorganized and renamed its unit that investigates officer-involved shootings, the Los Angeles Times says. Officials said the new Force Investigation Division will have more detectives, more supervisors, and a more rigorous approach. Critics long have complained that the department seeks to justify officers’ use of force rather than assemble an impartial account of what happened. As part of a 2000 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department, the LAPD agreed to improve shooting investigations.
The department created a Critical Incident Investigation Division and promised to give due weight to witness statements and physical evidence that conflicted with officers’ accounts. Problems persisted. Police Chief William Bratton has entrusted the overhaul to Deputy Chief Michael Berkow, head of the Professional Standards Bureau. Berkow said he devoured books and studies on police shootings and examined how other departments handled investigations. The Force Investigation Division reports to Berkow.