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NEWS > 09 November 2011

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Home of Ga. Police Chief Burne
By ELLIOTT MINOR

Associated Press Writer

MARSHALLVILLE, Ga. (AP) - Townspeople broke into the police chief's house and burned it down early Friday, a few hours after a man died in police custody, authorities said.

No one was home at the time, and no injuries were reported. No immediate arrests were made.

Police Chief Stephen Stewart, who returned from reserve duty in Iraq about two months ago, had left the house along with his family shortly after the death in this town of 1,300 people 90 miles south of Atlanta, authorities said.

Clarence Walke... Read more

 Article sourced from

Kitsap Sun
09 November 2011
This article appeared in the above title/site.
To view it in its entirity click this link.


Report finds flaws in Bainbridge police misconduct policies

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND The problems with the Bainbridge Island Police
Department's system for handling misconduct complaints start with something as
simple as the paper forms.

Hard to find, inconsistent in their terminology and even threatening in their wording,
the forms may be dissuading people from raising concerns about Bainbridge police
officers.

That's one of the key findings in a report assessing the BIPD's misconduct
investigation procedures and policies. Conducted by police accountability
consultant Sam Pailca, who formerly ran the Seattle Police Department's Office of
Professional Accountability, the report notes that the BIPD's methods for
investigating complaints "fall short of standards that have emerged as best
practices" for other police departments.

Pailca said one of the two forms the BIPD identified as its official misconduct
complaint form includes a warning that complainants may be called to testify in
court and be charged with a crime if their complaint is judged false. "(T) he
admonishments in the Citizen Complaint form could have the strong chilling affect
on even good faith and legitimate complaints," Pailca wrote in her report, which
was released to the Kitsap Sun through a public records request.

Besides removing the intimidating language from the complaint forms, Pailca
recommended that the BIPD settle on one standardized complaint form. Pailca was
given two different forms when she asked for the paperwork citizens must use to
file a complaint. One form, entitled "Citizen Complaint," had the legal warning. A
second form, called an "Employee Incident Report," appeared more for internal use
and did not have a signature line. Pailca said she was unable to confirm which
form was actually in use by the BIPD.

It was also unclear how a citizen could obtain a complaint form. Neither form is
available online, at the police headquarters lobby or at other public city locations.

The report is due for release to the public at the Nov. 16 City Council meeting. City
administrators declined to comment on the report until it is presented to the council.

Overall, the BIPD's complaint investigation policies and procedures match that of
similar- and larger-sized police departments. Pailca praised the BIPD for its overall
"openness" and commitment to continuous improvement. Chief Jon Fehlman was
commended in the report for his decision to have outside agencies investigate all
officer-involved shootings and potential criminal conduct.

Pailca was hired by the city in July to review the BIPD's misconduct complaint
system. The report was due to the city by Aug. 31.

The report's scope was limited to reviewing documented policies and internal
procedures. Not included were complaint files, interviews with complainants,
community input or assessments on how well the department handled complaints.

The issue of restoring public confidence is mentioned repeatedly in Pailca's report.

Besides improving the intake portion of the complaint process, she recommends
against a current policy of having complainants submit their forms directly to an
officer.

While this direct contact "can often diffuse" a complaint, it may be intimidating or
shake the confidence of a complainant who distrusts the police, Pailca wrote.

Pailca said it is "particularly troubling" that the BIPD has a policy of sharing
complainant and witness information with the accused officer.

In doing so, the BIPD "tipped the scale too far in the officer's direction" and failed to
adequately protect the confidentiality of complainants and witnesses.

Pailca also argues against the current practice of having police staff in the same
union investigating each other.

"This imposes an obvious and immediate barrier to improving the quality of
investigations and in demonstrating accountability to the public," she wrote.

Another problem area is the BIPD's lack of a systematic method for documenting
complaints. Tracking complaints could reveal potential or developing issues with an
officer's conduct, regardless of whether the officer was found guilty of
wrongdoing.
 
 


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