By Sgt. Chris Depue
Statement from Chief Forbes:
Jackson County, Mo. – In the fall of 2021, several Police Chiefs from Eastern Jackson County noted a need for an intra-agency task force style approach to police officer involved investigations. These investigations would involve the intentional or unintentional actions of an officer, either as actor or victim, in which a person is injured or killed or the potential exists for criminal charges to be filed as a result of the action. This approach would better ensure transparency, accountability, and impartiality in the criminal investigation of these matters.
A group of commanders from each agency formed to develop the policies and procedures for the team. Members attended training and researched nationally recognized practices and standards for investigating officer-involved incidents. The Jackson County Prosecutors Office was consulted about these standards.
The Eastern Jackson County Police Chiefs from Blue Springs, Grandview, Independence, and Lee’s Summit formed the Board of Directors over the area’s first Police Involved Investigation Team (PIIT). The PIIT Board will ensure police involved incidents are thoroughly criminally investigated, by the non-involved agencies, and presented to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. The Prosecutor will determine whether anyone, employee or civilian, committed a crime during the events which led up to and included the police involved incident based upon the evidence collected and submitted.
Through the collective collaboration of the four Eastern Jackson County Police agencies, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, and assistance of the Missouri State Highway Patrol the PIIT was established. In October, 2022, selected tenured Criminal Investigators, Investigative Supervisors and Command Staff members from each of the agencies were chosen and implemented as members of the Eastern Jackson County PIIT. For each investigation, the members of the selected team are screened for potential bias.
Training was held in October, 2022 at the Lee’s Summit Police Department for team investigators from each agency. The training included presentations by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
The PIIT team is expected to alleviate some of the workload of the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation team which conducts similar investigations. The MSHP has offered to assist the team if necessary if staffing is ever a concern.
“I am proud of the work of many individuals who helped create the PIIT according to nationally recognized standards,” Chief Travis Forbes said. “The team will help ensure a thorough investigation is conducted to provide a full picture to the prosecuting attorney, the community, and all who were involved in the incident. The process aligns with the Lee’s Summit Police Department’s accreditation process, which supports the investigation of all police use of force incidents.”
The Lee’s Summit Police Department is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the gold standard in public safety.