Activists Criticize Police ‘Cooling-Off’ Policies After Shootings

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After a police officer fatally shoots someone, it can take days or even weeks before the public or his supervisors hear the officer’s version of what happened, the Associated Press reports.

In many states, that so-called cooling-off period is carved out in state law or in a police department’s contract. That opportunity to take some time before undergoing questioning by investigators angers community activists and others seeking reforms of police departments around the country who believe it gives officers time to reshape their story to justify a shooting and avoid getting fired or charged. Law enforcement officials and experts say officers need to be able to collect their thoughts, so they don’t provide details that are tainted by the trauma of the shooting. Just the latest example arose in Fort Worth, Texas, where a police officer fatally shot a woman inside her home; before he could be compelled to undergo questioning, he resigned, making it even more difficult to find out what he was thinking, why he fired his gun — and, some believe, to get justice.

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