Thursday, February 16, 2017

KSP forms new unit to investigate officer-involved shootings

With increasing public interest and media attention throughout the U.S. regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies, the Kentucky State Police has formed a new unit designed to add experience, expertise and transparency to investigations of officer-involved shootings in the Commonwealth.

“We have a responsibility to our officers and the communities we serve, to apply our best resources for determining the unbiased facts of these incidents,” said KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders. “There must be best practices in place to ensure high quality, unbiased and transparent investigations. It’s simply a matter of public trust.”

Designated as the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), the unit consists of three lieutenants, two sergeants and one detective. Collectively, they bring almost 100 years of applied law enforcement experience to the team. They are supported by the Collision Analysis Team, which consists of five members and brings laser scanning capabilities for detailed crime scene mapping. Also supporting the CIRT are crime scene technicians from the agency’s forensic laboratories, as well as Electronic Crimes Branch personnel, who collect and examine digital evidence.

“The people on this team are all seasoned investigators with the experience, training, and resources to ensure a thorough and complete analysis,” said KSP Deputy Commissioner Alex Payne, who played a vital role in the development of the team. “They will operate on facts only to arrive at a conclusion of what happened at each incident.”

According to Payne, the new team will automatically be involved if a KSP officer is involved in a shooting and on a case-by-case basis if requested by outside agencies.

Since 2015, KSP has investigated 29 of its own officers who were involved in shooting incidents. In 2016, the agency investigated 19 shooting incidents involving officers from other agencies in the state.

Since its formation in January, CIRT has investigated five incidents.

“I have great confidence that this new team will have a positive impact on how officer-involved shooting investigations are conducted around Kentucky,” said Sanders. “It will provide a more standardized structure that will make the process more efficient and effective, while providing more clarity to each incident.”

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley applauded the new initiative. “The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet seeks to be a leader in reform and transparency for the citizens of the Commonwealth, and this is another example of how Kentucky is leading the way. “I commend Commissioner Sanders and KSP for their forward thinking with innovations that will make a real difference.”