CHANGE THE PROCESS
I am a retired USAF pilot who attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I understand mishap investigations, professional cultural issues, and the training and discipline of a profession that uses deadly force. Most importantly, I am a father who lost a son due to problems associated with the current law enforcement culture and training.
- Wisconsin Statutes regarding law enforcement are the oldest in the nation (125 years) and do not provide for a centralized professional review, called an External Professional Review.
- Currently, these statutes give each community “Home Rule.” This means that local police review themselves with bias at the departmental level, called an Internal Organizational Review. The local chief then passes judgment on the performance of his organization, his own policies, and his own abilities.
- There are no external checks and balances to maintain objectivity in the current investigative process. This procedure negatively affects training and culture in a multitude of ways.
- There are no elected officials who are held directly accountable for law enforcement culture.
- District attorneys, overworked and understaffed, work daily with officers on investigations and are reluctant to upset the close relationship established among them. Additionally, they do not want to put voter or police union support at risk with a coroner’s inquest or charges against officers. Any decision regarding law enforcement directly affects a DA's electability.
- Local police and fire commissioners are appointed by a community leader and are reluctant to speak against the city or the authority of the District Attorney or police chief. These individuals do not have the skills or training to review police shooting investigations.
The following solution addresses each problem stated above. This solution, as presented below, is currently believed to be the only existing Review Board Guidelines of its kind in the country.
Chief Shield Firearms Discharge Review Board
The Chief Shield Review Board consists of a five member panel composed of two police chiefs or assistant police chiefs, two criminal justice professors and one judge or civil rights attorney, all either active or retired, who are appointed by the Wisconsin Attorney General to review a police incident that has resulted in a serious injury or fatality. The police chief of the municipality in which a firearms discharge has occurred would not be allowed to serve on the panel to review his/her own organization.
In addition, a special prosecutor needs to be assigned to the Attorney General's office that is removed from direct election pressure to prosecute any findings by the five member board.
Professionals in law enforcement must review law enforcement. In order to maintain objectivity, local law enforcement, with the assistance of outside law enforcement, would conduct the investigation and pass the detailed investigative findings to the Chief Shield Review Board for analysis and recommendations. After the CSRB review is complete, the Board passes its findings to the Attorney General (special prosecutor), the local chief or sheriff and the District Attorney for accolades or, if necessary, disciplinary or criminal charges. The benefits include the following:
- A senior elected official is directly held accountable for state law enforcement culture
- Law Enforcement reviews itself (professional external review)
- The District Attorney and the local police chief are removed from the pressures of making objective decisions affecting current organizational and voter/union relationships
- The review process involves many external and internal personnel to ensure the integrity, objectivity, and fairness of the process
- This process establishes checks and balances assuring the highest standards in training/culture
Please write a letter to the Department of Justice and FBI asking that they investigate the Michael Bell shooting and help change how Wisconsin investigates Police fatal shootings and in-custody deaths.
Should a Police Department Be Left
to Judge Itself? Voice Your Opinion:
US Attorney James Santelle
517 E. Wisconsin Ave Suite 530
Milwaukee, WI 53202
FBI Agent Teresa Carlson
330 E. Kilbourn Avenue Suite 600
Milwaukee, WI 53202