handling officer involved shootings

At the moment, every police executive should be concerned about handling officer-involved shootings (OIS). The International Chiefs of Police (IACP) released a new guide for police executives, administrators, and investigators on how to handle officer-involved shootings (OIS). Over the past year since Ferguson, the focus of much of the nation is what police officers do and why they use deadly physical force.

What U.S. Supreme Court Decisions are Involved?

The guide covers the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision that governs just about every police use of force encounter: Graham v. Connor. The Graham decision should be required reading for every Criminal Justice student and news reporter. The other U.S. Supreme Court decision, not listed in the guide, which limits police use of deadly physical force is Tennessee v. Garner. Garner provided us with the “Fleeing Felon Rule” and should also be required reading. Not only must the rank-and-file know these cases, but also the department Public Information Officer (PIO).

There is a section on how law enforcement agencies deal with the media and with social media during an OIS investigation. One thing that the media section did not address is the timeliness of the information released to the public. When law enforcement agencies hold onto or wait too long to release information, they run the risk of having the media (and the public), speculate on what happened. Those members of the public will then fill in the narrative the way they want to. That is something that must be considered immediately.

Law enforcement agencies cannot further exacerbate the fragile relationship that it has with the communities they serve. We live in a fast-paced social media world where the information is going to get out anyway. It may as well come from the police department. It would be a good first step in more transparent policing in America.

Obtain a PDF of the guide from the IACP HERE