Law enforcement agencies create team to investigate officer-involved incidents
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Law enforcement agencies across southern Arizona are joining forces to investigate officer-involved shootings and in custody deaths.
The Pima Regional Critical Incident Team is comprised of the sheriff’s department and eight police departments. The multi-agency approach aims to remove any conflict of interest with investigations involving an officer’s use of force.
“Transparency is key and this is a bridge to that transparency,” said Interim Chief Jason Brei of the University of Arizona Police Department.
After a use of force incident, several of the agencies on the team will work together using their own detectives to conduct the investigation. The critical incident team will report their findings to the county attorney.
“There’s no doubt in my mind in the year to come, other regions, other parts of the state and country will be following our lead with how we put this thing together,” said Chief Chad Kasmar of the Tucson Police Department.
A statewide approach is already being considered. A bill forming an investigative task force within DPS to investigate use of force incidents just passed the House. Oro Valley Police Chief Kara Riley said the southern Arizona agencies wanted to get ahead of it which is why they formed their own team.
“We are focusing obviously on the Pima County area,” she said. “The state legislature is then focusing on perhaps in the next few years there will be a state tentacle of the Department of Public Safety to do investigations throughout the state.”
A major goal of these efforts is to increase public trust.
“To be honest with not just those in our organization but those we serve particularly our community and that’s why this is so critical to us,” said Sheriff Chris Nanos of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
The new critical incident team, comprised of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Tucson Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Marana Police Department, Pascua Yaqui Police Department, Sahuarita Police Department, University of Arizona Police Department, Pima Community College Police Department, and South Tucson Police Department, went into effect Tuesday.
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