Wrestling with budget cuts, the Sacramento district attorney shut down the only countywide unit that had independently monitored police shootings to determine whether the officers’ actions were justified and whether the investigations into them were conducted thoroughly, the Sacramento Bee reports. The DA’s office for the first time in decades did not dispatch its own team of investigators to review a fatal shooting earlier this month by a county sheriff’s deputy.
The DA’s monitoring efforts have not resulted in a criminal prosecution for at least a decade, and one local lawyer who specializes in suing the police said the unit has acted as something of a “rubber stamp” over the years. Still, the unit has lent an element of oversight that rank-and-file officers, police managers and their critics say is essential to maintaining good relations between cops and the community. “Obviously, it’s a critical piece in making sure that the perception of the public is maintained in regard to the Police Department,” said Brent Meyer, president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association. “I think we’re going to lose out in the long run with this being cut.” District Attorney Jan Scully cut the unit in response to a $6.9 million budget shortfall for her office that is expected to result in 42 layoffs, including 31 prosecutors.