DA’s office hopes to create multi-jurisdictional task force for investigating police-involved incidents

Posted at 9:47 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 23:47:21-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill wants all cities to get on the same page when it comes to how they handle officer-involved incidents, such as shootings.

He is trying to establish a multi-jurisdictional task force that will investigate all police-involved incidents. On Tuesday, Cottonwood Heights voted to become the first city to get on board.

"If we have a perception of mistrust it's our obligation to be as open, public and accountable to our citizens as we can," Gill said.

The Officer Involved Critical Incident Task Force has been years in the making. The goal is to make sure every investigation of an officer-involved critical incident is conducted professionally, thoroughly and impartially.

"People always have raised eyebrows when you are investigating yourself and this completely takes it out of your hands, my hands, and puts it into several different agencies," said Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo.

This task force just won't focus on shootings, but anything involving an officer that requires an investigation.

"In custody deaths, automobile accidents, so anything that could be critiqued or obviously of interest to the public," Russo said.

The 14 cities within the county that have police departments, as well as the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, would make up the task force. The police chiefs from the cities, and the sheriff, would recommend personnel, preferably the best of the best, to be part of the team.

"So this is going to be a core group of individuals who are professionally trained in officer-involved shootings in both the techniques of that and then surrounding issues," Gill said. "We want to have a professional core of individuals who are making these investigations that our community can trust in and believe in the transparency of it through the process that we have."

Gill said he doesn't need every agency in the county, just a majority, to create the task force. The goal is to have it up and running by the end of the year.