Posted: 04/13/16 08:11, Edited: 04/13/16 08:11
by Dave Mindeman
Sen. Scott Dibble has proposed legislation "that a special prosecutor be created to handle every case in which police use deadly force."
I believe this is a very good idea.
Here is a summation...
The proposal would route every officer-involved incident that causes great bodily harm to a newly created special prosecutor's office for investigation and a decision on whether the officers should face any charges.
Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat and the bill's chief proponent, said the proposal is not a response specifically to the outcome after Jamar Clark's death but a move to address the attention on officer-involved deaths nationwide and remove doubt about a judicial process that critics complain lacks accountability and too often leads to no charges against officers. He called it an extra layer of independence.
Here is why this is necessary. Law enforcement depends on the trust of the citizens they serve. That trust is under suspicion. Until we can remedy that situation, we need to have a method of examination (in cases of officer shootings) that is outside the normal pathways within the system.
A special prosecutor's office that has no direct ties to the police, the city, or the county attorney, would be given jurisdiction. How that office is staffed and organized needs to have input from all parties - citizens, police administration, and the city.
Whether this lack of trust in the police department is deserved is pretty irrelevant. If the citizens don't have that trust, then we need to find a method to repair it.
Senator Dibble's proposal will not get through this session, but the conversation needs to get started. This is just one aspect of racial disparities in the justice system that can be addressed, but it is a critical one.
When trust between the police and the community is broken, we have a public safety problem. For all of us.