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Local Oklahoma Police Dept. to Turn Over All Police Shootings to OSBI

14-Oct-2016

One of the biggest concerns in the apparent rash of police-involved shootings across the nation--and in Oklahoma, specifically--is that the determination of whether or not a shooting is justified is often made by the police department involved. "Who is policing the police," has become a valid question in many parts of the nation. After all, it seems that the local police department would have incentive to protect its own, to find justification for the actions of its officers.

Now, one local Oklahoma police department has found a solution to the problem of policing itself. The Sand Springs Police Department has become the first in Oklahoma to decide that it will no longer investigate its own police-involved shootings. Instead, all police shootings within the department will be turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI) for review.

According to the OSBI, Sand Springs is the "standard bearer" for how local police departments should handle police shootings, allowing an independent third party--in this case, the OSBI--to investigate all such cases.

The shooting of Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa shows a need for third-party investigation of police shootings, but reports say Sand Springs has been working toward a plan for releasing police shooting investigation to the OSBI since the shooting of Michael Brown in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2014.

Certainly, third party investigators are often called in the aftermath of a police shooting, but the Sand Springs Police Department's agreement with the OSBI will have a state investigator on the scene in the initial minutes after the shooting. 

The OSBI and the Sand Springs Police department say this move is intended to reduce skepticism in the way police-involved shootings are investigated. The goal is that this immediate third-party investigation will improve confidence in law enforcement through accountability and transparency.

The OSBI says the agency is hopeful that local law enforcement agencies in other cities across the state will enter similar agreements to no longer handle their own police-involved shooting cases.

 

 



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