Circuit Attorney asks that her office be in charge of police shooting investigations

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ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner wants to change who investigates officer involved shootings in the city. Gardner has only been on the job nine months, but said the city is at a crossroads and needs confidence in the justice system.

Addressing the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, Gardner asked that her office lead all future investigations regarding officer-involved shootings. She said police should not be able to investigate the conduct of their own employees.

“I'm asking for your support to help me secure the legal authority and resources needed to swiftly and fairly investigate these cases,” she said.

Gardner said the Force Investigation Unit (FIU), which currently investigates officer involved shootings, decides what evidence they want to send to her office and when, which can sometimes take years.

“The current FIU officers are spending too much effort protecting officers as opposed to searching for truth,” she said.

Gardner's new independent investigative unit would be called the CAO. once a gun is fired by an officer. Police would secure the scene, but instead of leading the investigation, Garnder’s unit would have total control with help from police.

“The importance of this is sending a message to community and officers about accountability and transparency; that something is being done,” Gardner said.

The city circuit attorney said in the post-Ferguson age, people don’t trust the criminal justice system, particularly people of color. She wants to change that.

“We need dedicated officers, including four prosecutors, five investigators, and two support staff to create this unit,” Gardner said.

Total yearly cost of this unit would be approximately 0.1 percent of the police budget, which is $1.3 million. However, the money could also be taken from other areas.

This new way of investigation is in the process of happening in one other city so far: San Francisco. Their district attorney wrote a letter to city aldermen encouraging them to support Gardner's motion for resources and authority.

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