Kansas City PD Presentation Says Every Shooting Investigation Is Handled The Same Way… Unless It Involves A Cop
from the no-bias-here-if-you-don't-count-the-bias-towards-cops dept
The Kansas City Police Department has managed to turn a few heads — and not in the good way — with an internal PowerPoint that may as well have been titled “So, You’ve Killed Someone.” The document was obtained during discovery in a wrongful death suit against the KCPD. Back in 2019, Officer Dylan Pifer shot and killed Terrance Bridges, claiming he thought Bridges was trying to pull a gun from his sweatshirt pocket. No gun was found on Bridges.
The presentation [PDF] obtained from Bridges’ family’s lawyer by the Kansas City Star advises cops of two things: police shootings should be handled like routine criminal investigations to eliminate claims of bias. And police shootings should be handled nothing like routine criminal investigations because they involve cops.
The opening slide makes it clear what the priority is in investigations of shootings by cops: preserving the narrative. It even has the number one next to it.
Upon completion of this block of instruction, the participants will, with the use of handouts and notes, be able to:
1. Identify the best defense again [sic] claims of bias or favoritism in the investigations of officer involved shootings.
You know what’s not a top priority? Preserving evidence. That comes behind officer safety.
Supervisors should consider the preservation of evidence as secondary to the safety of the public and department personnel.
The presentation points out that shootings are controversial and claims “police critics” will often claim investigations — which routinely clear officers of wrongdoing — are “biased and that police receive special treatment.” So, the best defense is a good offense:
The best defense to these claims is CONSISTENCY in how we conduct ALL criminal investigations.
The best way to do this is to treat the investigation into officer involved shootings LIKE EVERY OTHER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION.
All well and good, except the presentation spends most of its running time explaining how this sort of investigation won’t be treated like a regular criminal investigation.
Does this look like the sort of thing cops offer to non-cops involved in shootings?
Don’t engage the member in detailed conversation about the incident, but you are encouraged to talk with them like you would on any other day.
Make sure that all requests (bathroom, food, drinks, cigarettes) by the involved members are met as soon as possible.
Forget about preserving evidence:
If their recording system is active, have the member mute the mike and mute yours. They will be making calls to FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] and spouses and family. They may be in an excited state and hyperverbal.
And start hiding stuff from journalists:
Park somewhere that responding media will not be able to film the involved member.
But that of course only means the involved cop. The non-cop will have any and all possibly incriminating information immediately forwarded to local media, along with any mugshots the PD happens to have on hand. Information about the involved officer will be much slower in arriving. Much slower than even the involved officer’s statement to investigators:
Generally, the member will be permitted up to forty-eight (48) hours to complete such statement…
The presentation then spends a bit of time bemoaning the public’s confidence in law enforcement, which isn’t at an all-time high. It blames the media (again) for misrepresenting shootings by officers and, again, stresses doing everything by the book to combat this perception. But the book for officers is very different from the book for citizens. And until law enforcement agencies are willing to change that, the rest of what bothers the presenter about public perception isn’t going to change.
And this is about the worst possible way you could end an instructive presentation on handling shootings by officers:
There is nothing wrong with being glad to be alive and being okay that you were the winner in a competition in which the winning prize was your life.
Law enforcement isn’t a competition with winners and losers. It’s a job, an important one, but one that has apparently been handed to people who believe members of the public are enemy combatants and that shootings are just games to be won.