States cp — vs Death Penalty —


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States CP
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Investigations by the state attorneys general alleviates eliminates conflicts of interests and helps spread awareness of police misconduct – that ensures accountability

CPD 15 (Center for Popular Democracy; an American advocacy group that promotes progressive politics; “Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing”; June 2015; [DTD]
Independent Oversight Policy 11: Special or Independent Prosecutors When trying criminal defendants, district attorneys rely on testimony and evidence provided by police officers, many of whom they work with regularly. These relationships create conflicts of interest when prosecutors must determine whether and how to prosecute police officers accused of criminal acts. A special, or independent, prosecutor—someone external to the local jurisdiction and local governmental departments—should be assigned to investigate and determine whether criminal charges should be filed against a police officer, especially in cases where officers use force against civilians. Further, the special prosecutor should be provided with qualified investigators and resources to eliminate reliance on information provided by or investigations led by local police—another potential conflict of interest. The White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing reiterated the need for independent prosecutors in cases of police involved killings. In Practice After John Crawford, a Black man, was gunned down by white police officers in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart because he was holding a BB gun, organizations such as the Ohio Students Association and others rallied and pressured the county prosecutor to support the appointment of a special prosecutor. Against a backdrop of simmering national discussions about police use of force following the Eric Garner and Michael Brown shootings, the Ohio attorney general assigned a special prosecutor with experience in police-involved shootings to the case. Several states have proposed measures about appointing special prosecutors or providing independent investigation when there are officer-involved deaths, including California, Indiana, New York, Missouri, Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, and New Mexico. New York and Indiana are the only states to propose establishing an office at the state level. Best Practices: States should establish a permanent and independent “Office of Police Investigations”, authorized to investigate and prosecute all police killings of civilians, use-of-force cases, sexual assault by law enforcement officers, and any other cases of police misconduct against civilians, at its discretion. Unlike civilian oversight bodies or Inspectors General Officers, (discussed below) these offices would have the power to prosecute officers accused of misconduct in criminal court. ✓ The Office should be equipped with sufficient resources, including investigators independent of local police departments. ✓ Absent the creation of a permanent office, independent, special prosecutors should be assigned in all cases where criminal misconduct against civilians is alleged against police and in all police encounters or custody that result in the death of a civilian. ✓ In cases that involve state police departments, Attorney Generals should be required to appoint a special, independent prosecutor. Sample Legislation No model legislation for independent prosecutors exist but the following is an example of a piece of legislation that may be helpful, along with the best practices section, in crafting legislation that reflects the needs of your community. HR 5830: Directs the governor of a state to: (1) appoint a special prosecutor to present evidence on the state’s behalf at a hearing before a judge to determine whether probable cause exists to bring criminal charges against a law enforcement officer who uses deadly force against a person and thereby causes his or her death; and (2) use a random process to select the special prosecutor from among the prosecutors in the state, excluding the prosecutors of the locality in which the death took place. Resources h For more information about efforts to establish state-level special prosecutor policies, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website: civil-and-criminal-justice/law-enforcement.aspx. h For a fact sheet on establishing a permanent special prosecutor’s office, see WeTheProtestors’s policy brief: Policy-Brief-1-Special-Prosecutor. h For more information about the Ohio Student Association’s work: Policy 12: Inspectors General or Oversight Commissions Subjecting law enforcement agencies to external oversight can provide some transparency and may help monitor the practices and policies of local police. Unlike community based oversight, Inspectors General or Oversight Commissions refer to oversight of police departments by third party government agencies or officials. The establishment of an Inspectors General or Auditor’s Office or Oversight Commission by no means guarantees effective oversight, but may help the public access information about police abuses, ensure effective implementation of reforms, and proactively identify issues in the operations, policies, programs and practices of police departments. While the powers exercised by such an office will depend on state and local law, oversight bodies are most likely to be effective if they are not controlled by law enforcement, empowered to monitor police department practices related to civil rights and civil liberties, able to exercise subpoena power, and able to issue binding policy changes. In Practice Inspectors General, auditors and oversight agencies and commissions are not a silver bullet, but they can be an important part of the landscape of oversight necessary to ensure police accountability. Oversight agencies or commissions can often investigate systemic issues of misconduct and are well positioned to monitor reforms and provide information to the public about how effective reforms have been. Reports and recommendations from oversight agencies or commissions can be useful advocacy tools and can help persuade local elected officials (and sometimes law enforcement leadership) to make changes to policies or procedures. A number of cities have active Inspectors General Offices, which through reports and recommendations have unearthed problematic departmental practices. For instance a report by the recently created Inspector General in New York City documented the illegal use of chokeholds by NYPD officers and the flawed NYPD disciplinary system. A report by the Los Angeles Inspectors General highlighted the lack of data around use of force by the Sheriff’s department, gaining a lot of media and community attention in late 2014 and early 2015. In New Orleans, a series of reports conducted by the Inspectors General Office throughout 2014 resulted in ten federal indictments and three convictions of officers involved in misconduct. While there are a number of examples of strong Inspectors General Offices, the effectiveness of the Office depends on the priorities and allegiances of whoever is appointed. The Seattle Community Police Commission provides another model. Rather than being headed by a single person, who may be vulnerable to political pressure or just not be effective, the Community Police Commission is a fifteen member body representative of different community interests and appointed by the Mayor. Unlike most other civilian police commissions, it does not review individual misconduct cases; rather, it reviews the civilian oversight and accountability system, as well as police policies and practices of public significance. Seattle champions this approach because they believe the representative nature of the Community Police Commission ensures that the Office does not become bureaucratized and/or disconnected from community priorities or concerns. While information provided by oversight bodies has been helpful for advocates across the country, there is no clear evidence that these oversight bodies alone are effective in obtaining meaningful reforms. Best Practices: Oversight agencies, which review law enforcement policy and practices, are normally instituted at the city or county level and can help make the public aware of systemic police misconduct and abuses. ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions are most effective if they are fully independent and have the freedom and power to choose what they investigate. City or state law may limit the ability to create truly independent bodies, but it is normally possible to ensure that oversight agencies are not controlled by law enforcement. ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions should be charged with monitoring and investigating patterns and practices of police interactions with particularly vulnerable populations, including: women, LGBTQ people, youth, homeless people, and people living in public housing, immigrants, and people with disabilities, as well as specific forms of police misconduct including sexual harassment and assault and discriminatory treatment against LGBTQ people and other populations. ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions should be charged with regularly analyzing data on a range of police department practices to determine if there are disparities based on race, age, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation in enforcement practices.4 ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions should have full access to all information needed to complete their investigations. To ensure access, they should have: subpoena power, ability to compel testimony, and access to all relevant internal documents, systems, and personnel of the police department and related departments or bodies that may have access to complaints against officers and departments. ✓ There should be legal protections from retaliation for people who provide information about potential abuses or misconduct to oversight agencies or commissions. ✓ Communities should have input in determining the priorities and topic of investigations. Oversight agencies or commissions should be mandated to report all of their findings to the public and consult communities most impacted by police brutality and incarceration in the development of their priorities. ✓ The budget of oversight agencies or commissions should be adequate and consistent. ✓ There must be various accountability mechanisms, including mandated annual reporting and/or open public hearings. ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions should be responsible for monitoring and reporting on the status of prior recommendations. ✓ Police departments should be required to respond to and acknowledge the recommendations of oversight agencies or commissions. ✓ Oversight agencies or commissions should have public websites that include past reports, recommendations, and opportunities for community members to submit questions, complaints, or recommended investigations.

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