Independent Investigation Team (IIT)
INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE TEAM (IIT)
An independent investigation team (IIT) is made up of qualified and certified peace officer investigators, civilian crime scene specialists, and at least two non-law enforcement community representatives who operate completely independent of any involved agency to conduct investigations of police deadly force incidents. All IIT leadership will be commissioned peace officers with previous criminal investigation experience and will be recommended by their agency to the commander. IIT leadership (chosen by the chiefs and sheriffs who support and participate in the IIT) will make sure that all applicants have the correct qualifications, will make sure they are interviewed by a panel that includes the community representatives, will ask each applicant the same questions, and will select those best suited for the IIT.
Once the involved agency has rendered the scene safe and provided/facilitated lifesaving first aid, they must immediately call the IIT. The involved agency will protect and preserve the scene until the IIT arrives. Once the IIT arrives, the involved agency will relinquish control of the scene. No member of the involved agency may participate in the investigation conducted by the IIT, except for necessary sharing of specialized equipment, and if the involved agency requests to release body cam footage or other information of urgent public interest. No member of the involved agency nor the IIT will provide the media with criminal background information of the person against whom deadly force has been used unless required by law. The IIT commander will provide public updates once a week.
PRINCIPLES OF AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
Five fundamental principles to enhance public trust in the integrity of independent investigations involving police use of deadly force:
- Independence - The need to demonstrate no undue influence on the investigation
- Transparency - The need to shine a light on who was conducting the investigation and ensure it is done in compliance with the law
- Communication - The need for frequent and respectful communication is necessary to maintain the opportunity to trust the people and process involved in the investigation
- Credible process - The requirement to follow established best practices
- Credible investigators - The requirement to ensure that investigators are appropriately trained, experienced, and trustworthy
PORT ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION TEAM (IIT)
The Port Angeles Police Department independent investigative team is a part of KCIRT. It consists of qualified and certified peace officer investigators and at least two non-law enforcement community representatives who operate completely independent of any involved agency to conduct investigations of police deadly force incidents.
The Kitsap County Incident Response Team (KCIRT) is designed to ensure all investigations are conducted according to the defined principles, WAC, and CJTC rules. KCIRT includes a reputable team of agencies including Bainbridge Island Police Department, Bremerton Police Department, Clallam County Sheriff's Office, Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, Port Angeles Police Department, Port Orchard Police Department, Poulsbo Police Department, Sequim Police Department, Shelton Police Department, and Washington State Patrol.
IIT MEMBERS (LAW ENFORCEMENT)
IIT members must be employed by a member agency of the IIT. Their member appointment is up for review every three years. IIT members receive priority registration to Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA) trainings, homicide investigations training, and recertification. IIT members are expected to have a work history free of a sustained finding of serious misconduct and/or a pattern of sustained complaints, and a personal history free of demonstrable bias against members of the community that may be impacted by police use of deadly force. Policies and operating procedures shall be maintained by the IIT and made available if requested. Names of all members of the IIT, including the non-law enforcement community representatives, are available to the public on the WSCJTC website. The IIT will train together annually.
NON-LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE
At least two non-law enforcement community representatives, who represent the impacted community, will be assigned to each IIT. These community representatives will participate in the selection of IIT investigators, review conflict of interest statements, be present at briefings, have access to the completed investigation file, be provided a copy of press releases and communication prior to release, and review notification of equipment used by the involved agency. Community representatives will sign a binding confidentiality agreement.
The IIT Non-Law Enforcement Community Representatives should have credibility with, and ties to, the community impacted by the police use of deadly force. Representatives selected will participate directly in:
- Vetting of IIT investigators,
- Screening for conflicts of interest, and
- Ensuring communication with families and community members
This position will require the Community Representative to pass a department/agency background check and attend identified training that is relevant to officer-involved deadly force incidents. The Non-Law Enforcement Community Representative must sign a binding confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each police use of deadly force incident investigation. This is a non-paid volunteer position.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a final report from the 21st Century Task Force on Policing. A core focus of that report addressed strategies for improving relationships, increasing community engagement, and fostering cooperation. The report recommended clear and comprehensive policies on the use of force, training on the importance of de-escalation, crisis intervention and mental health, the provision of first aid, and recommended external and independent investigations in officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death.
The Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA), formerly known as I-940 or SHB 1064, is reflected in the Washington Administrative Codes (WACs) (https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=139-12-010) and the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) adopted rules. Both implemented the requirement of an Independent Investigation Team that is completely independent of the involved agency in incidents where the use of deadly force by a peace officer results in death, substantial bodily harm, or great bodily harm. The goal of this requirement is to enhance accountability and increase trust between law enforcement and the community to improve the legitimacy of policing and increase safety for everyone.
WASHINGTON STATE TIMELINE
June 2019, the CJTC developed and adopted de-escalation training rules to include conducting 80-hour "Train the Trainers" classes around the state so regional agency trainers can conduct the first 24 hours of "De-escalation Training" locally, using local staff.
September/ October 2019: CJTC hosted public engagement meetings across the state to gather input on Independent Investigations criteria.
In December 2019, the CJTC developed and adopted the rules establishing the criteria for the Independent Investigations of police deadly force incidents.
In December 2019, all Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) students will receive 200 hours of violence de-escalation, mental health training, and patrol tactics training as part of their basic training.
January 5, 2020, all new rules took effect.
By December 2028, every incumbent Washington State certified peace officer must have completed 40 hours of de-escalation training, and every 3 years, each Washington State certified peace officer must complete 40-hours of de-escalation refresher training.