SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Several San Diego County law enforcement agencies came to an agreement Wednesday: when there is a deadly police shooting, an outside agency will conduct the investigation.
For example, currently, if San Diego police are involved in an officer-involved shooting, they would be investigating their own officers. This new memorandum would require another agency, like the Sheriff's Department or Chula Vista police to investigate the case.
Officers across the county explained during a press conference that on May 1, no agency would be investigating their own officer who is involved in either an officer-involved shooting or a use of force incident that results in death.
“All of these measures are in place for one important reason," San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said. "To truly strengthen the relationships with the people we serve. We must meet them at a place of trust and understanding.”
This memorandum of understanding does not mean the affected agency would not be able to conduct its own investigation. But it's about making sure the initial one is unbiased.
“Having another agency come and investigate, the SDPD come and investigate the deputy-involved shooting for example," explains San Diego County Sheriff's Department Undersheriff Kelly Martinez. "I don’t know their investigators, they are not in my chain of command so it is a much more independent investigation.”
Now the process will be that a scene is untouched until the other responding agency arrives on the scene to conduct their investigation. Within three days the District's Attorney's Office along with the lead agency will provide key facts to the public.
The lead agency has 90 days to complete its investigation, and the DA's office has 90 days to come to a decision.
“This is an additional step that guarantees, whether it’s real or perceived, the reality of an independent investigation and the transparency in the process," District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
Right now, all county agencies have agreed to follow this memorandum which the DA's office said has been in the works for a year.
When the different department heads were asked if there will be a way to know if this way of operating is going to be better than what is currently in place, they said they currently do not have a metrics system.
Chula Vista Police Department Chief, Roxana Kennedy says that the department leads typically meet once a month, and will probably review these new protocols sometime in August.