ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) – Police shootings in St. Louis would be investigated by a special team controlled by the city prosecutor — not police — under a plan before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.
Aldermen on the Public Safety Committee listened as Prosecutor Kim Gardner argued that it’s no longer acceptable to have police investigating members of their own department involved in deadly shootings.
Committee member Alderwoman Cara Spencer says a majority of aldermen might agree.
“I think that we all agree that we have to develop policies that are in the best interest of the public and that foster and move in a direction that increases trust in the police department,” Spencer says. “And that is in the best interest of the public, and quite frankly, it’s in the best interest of our police department.”
There’s no formal bill drafted, yet, but the idea is to set aside $1.3 million to fund an 11-member team under the prosecutor that would handle police shootings.
Spencer believes police, for the most part, would want to have some independent review of their department’s actions.
“The more distrust we have in the general public with our police department, the more dangerous it is to be a police officer,” she says.
The man who oversees the St. Louis police unit responsible for investigating police shootings is defending his team, the Associated Press reports, calling a proposal that the Circuit Attorney’s office take over the investigations “naive.”
Lt. Roger Engelhardt heads the Force Investigation Unit. He said Wednesday that his unit conducts each police shooting investigation as fairly as possible.
Engelhardt spoke in response to Gardner’s Tuesday proposal.
Gardner says police and the community “deserve an objective, fair and transparent investigation” of police-involved shootings.
But Engelhardt says Gardner is naive if she thinks that investigations by her office also wouldn’t be scrutinized.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)