By Michael W Loos [via ammoland.com] Ever heard the phrase “law enforcement is held to a higher standard”? I’d be happy if they were held to the same standard as the average citizen. Most citizens believe that if an police officer commits a crime, they should be charged. Apparently, the police disagree. Can you say Officer Daniel Andrews? And what of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights?
Wikipedia.org informs us that the LEOBR is in effect in 14 U.S. States. It’s designed to
protect American law enforcement personnel from investigation and prosecution arising from conduct during official performance of their duties, and provides them with privileges based on due process additional to those normally provided to other citizens. It was first set forth in 1974, following Supreme Court rulings in the cases of Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968).
Sergeant Barry E. Roy of the University of Arkansas’s Criminal Justice Institute uses the LEOBR as a basis for his pdf Management of Officer-involved Shootings. Here are some of his suggested protocols for a police investigation of an officer involved shooting, with my comments (in parenthesis) comparing the treatment afforded non-LEOs after a defensive gun uses.
Under the heading The Crime Scene Investigation:
2. We need to see that the investigator is able to get certain immediate information without compromising personal, legal protection. In many instances the officer(s) is the only witness to the event. As on [scene] supervisors, we should get a short, basic description of the event; it needs to be the least amount of information to communicate the nature of what happened. It is important for the officer(s) to identify the scope of the scene. The initial information should be given orally with as little detail required to get the investigation started. – (The Police will not care about your personal legal protections. They will want as much information as they can get from you.)
3. We should make sure that the involved officer(s) is made aware of what will be taking place from the beginning of the investigation. It is important to keep him informed and updated throughout the process to reduce the probability of unnecessary anxiety. – (Your anxiety is none of their concern. Only pressing you for more information.)
4. We should require our investigators to inspect the weapons of all the involved officer(s), even if the involved officer(s) does not believe he fired the weapon. “It is possible for an officer to discharge a weapon during a critical incident and not be aware of it” (Artwohl, 2002, pg. 19). – (Even though they know you may be so messed up in the head as to believe you didn’t fire your gun, they will still ask more questions. Can you imagine the D.A’s feeding frenzy if he hears you didn’t even realize you fired your sidearm?)
5. Unless it is absolutely necessary or required by department policy, we should not seize the officer’s weapon at the scene. – (Your gun is gone. Kiss it goodbye.)
7. Ensure that the involved officer(s) is not isolated and that he has access to a family member or support team member. The officer(s) should be ordered not to discuss the specific details of the incident with his support member. “Be prepared for a wide range of emotional reactions from on-scene personnel” (Artwohl, 2002, pg. 19). – (I don’t even have a response for this. Do you think an Officer is going to whisper in your ear “Shut up, man, don’t say a word till you’ve talked with an attorney!” Yeah, right.)
9. If at all possible, we should establish a quiet area where the affected officer(s) can be isolated from the general commotion, on-lookers, and media. – (Since you will be in the back seat of the cruiser, I don’t think this will be a problem.)
11. We should not allow the affected officer(s) to drive from the scene to another location. A driver should be made available to transport the officer(s) when the need arises to relocate. The involved officer(s) could be promptly transported to the hospital which would provide a safe refuge and appropriate medical attention.
12. We should encourage the affected officer(s) to go home and get some rest before giving an official statement. It is suggested that an officer(s) wait 24 to 48 hours before giving a statement. (Artwohl, 2002). – (This is why we stop answering questions. We need time to process the situation.)
Who in their right mind believes LEOs should be afforded special protections during an investigation into the aftermath of an officer involved shooting? Something is wrong in this country when the our Constitutional rights take a back seat to the rights of those we employ to protect us.