“There Are No Real Rules” Louisiana Task Force Approves Lenient Officer Shooting Internal Investigation Regulations

(Source: “BerkeleyDay3-3907” by Annette Bernhardt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

On Thursday, the Police Training, Screening, and De-escalation Task Force approved numerous new regulations that they believe will enable better policing in Louisiana. 

Their longest debate centered around whether law enforcement agencies should be allowed to internally investigate when their officer’s shoot people and it results in a death or serious injury. 

The Task Force voiced concerns that although smaller law enforcement agencies typically have internal investigations conducted by the state police, there are technically no rules in place that stop them from investigating themselves. 

Allowing them to investigate themselves enables corruption. State Representative Tony Bacala commented, “Right now, there are no real rules, we’re raising the bar above where it is today.” 

Bacala proposed that a new certification process be created to try and regulate what agencies can investigate their own officers. The new process would require at least 3 members of the agency to complete it, at which point they can conduct an internal investigation. 

State Representatives Ted James and Edmond Jordan argued that this proposal did not go far enough and that agencies should not be allowed to investigate themselves at all. Jordan commented, “It’s the fox guarding the hen house.” 

Many Louisianans agree with Representatives James and Jordan that these agencies should not be allowed to investigate themselves and that leaving the door open for them to be able to is unnecessary and dangerous. However, the task force voted 11-7 to approve Representative Bacala’s recommendation. 

The Task Force passed numerous other beneficial measures, including reducing the amount of time accused officers have to seek counsel, increasing the amount of time to complete officer shooting investigations, banning chokeholds, requiring anti-bias training for officers, banning no-knock warrants, and requiring dashboard cameras to be active when officers leave their vehicles, however, in other measures they pulled punches, not being as strict as they could have been. 

One example was how they voted against Representative Ted James’ proposal to ban officers under investigation from reviewing bodycam footage before meeting with investigators. James argued that being able to look at body camera footage enabled officers to fabricate stories while other representatives said it helps officers refresh their memory on the incident.

The Police Training, Screening, and De-escalation Task Force was created by the Louisiana legislature after George Floyd’s death and the black lives matter protests that followed. It was founded with the goal to improve policing in Louisiana, by creating new rules and standards that will limit racial bias and police violence. The measures they passed last week are steps in the right direction towards this goal, but they could do more.

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