Equal Justice Under Law

Equal Justice Under Law

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Better Tomorrow started this petition to United States Congress

Purpose

In these times we are seeing rising levels of civil unrest due to unnecessary deaths and extreme wrong-doing by police officers across this country. More and more people are losing faith that the police will perform honest investigations, and don’t believe the justice system will truly deliver justice against officers. This document is not about trying to undermine police efforts or ignore the efforts of good police officers, of which there are many. This is about more than race, religion, or socio-economic standing. This is about holding those responsible for our protection to the same level of accountability that the average citizen is held to.

 

Proposal

To create a law which establishes and funds an Organization within or under the DOJ specifically to oversee investigations of accused crimes committed by law enforcement personnel as well as prosecute these cases.

 

Why use separate investigative force

Creating an investigative force dedicated towards overseeing incidents involving police is crucial to regaining the public trust. It provides an impartial independent body that would have no motivations nor bias for finding lack of wrong-doing or leniency in punishment. Having internal investigations often ends up with either no wrong-doing found or punishments that are far lacking relative to the crime. Using other police departments that are at higher levels (city-county, county-state) could create issues with collaboration between the departments during future operations or investigations.

 

Why use prosecutors outside of norms

Using prosecutors other than ones who would normally prosecute in the jurisdiction is also an important part of this proposal because it prevents conflicts of interest. Prosecutors have to work with the police forces in their district. Having local district attorney’s offices prosecute their local police departments for alleged crimes could lead to strained ties that would risk any future cooperation. The police officers could consciously or unconsciously be less willing to help those that prosecute their fellow officers. If a prosecutor from an adjacent district is willing to prosecute the case as recommended by the Organization, then the prosecution can be handed off.

 

Further reduce conflicts of interest

In order to further reduce conflicts of interest investigators and prosecutors would not operate in jurisdictions in which they previously operated or work on cases that involve individuals they have previously worked with. 

 

Punishments for not referring crimes

Should a department fail to, or refuse to, forward information regarding accusations of criminal activity before, during, or after the investigation then the authority in that department responsible for reporting to the Organization could be legally liable. Charges brought forward could include evidence tampering, perjury, obstruction of justice, or any other applicable charges. If there is no dedicated personnel then the highest ranking official in the department could be charged.

 

Responsibilities

At a minimum the Organization would investigate: Incidents where a law enforcement officer causes a fatality, fatalities of individuals in custody, accusations of domestic violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers, obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, fabrication of evidence, and deprivation of rights under color of law. If possible, accusations of any felonies and repeated class A misdemeanors involving a law enforcement officer would be referred to the Organization based on budget, time, and personnel.

 

Conclusion

The events that lead to the latest series of civil unrest in Minneapolis are not a one-off scenario but is another step in the increasing distrust in the ability and/or motivation for police departments to provide honest and fruitful investigations into their own officers. This is mixed with failure to prosecute by some district attorneys unless there is significant public outrage. These types of demonstrations will continue to rise in quantity and severity until the public believes that justice is equal, regardless of their color or their career.

 

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