KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After an overnight shooting in Independence Thursday morning, four agencies announced the formation of a new Police Involved Incident Team, PIIT.
Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Independence and Grandview police departments worked to create the task force over the last year.
If a shooting happens in one town, like in Independence overnight, the other agencies respond to investigate.
They didn’t plan on announcing its formation Thursday, but the team’s response to the Independence shooting prompted them to move forward.
“We began talking about how busy the Missouri State highway patrol was in investigating all the Kansas City involved shootings with the Kansas City Police Department,” said Blue Springs Police of Chief Bob Muenz.
There’s a three to six month timeline for Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate officer-involved shootings.
In 2020, they investigated 18 officer involved shootings. That number fell to nine in 2021. So far this year, they’ve responded to 11 officer-involved shootings.
“The families, the communities and the officers involved,” Muenz said. “We need to get answers as quickly as we can.”
Mike Rader is a lawyer who represented the family of John Albers, a Johnson County teen shot and killed by police in Overland Park.
“[If] you have qualified people who are unbiased,” Rader said. “Whether they have a blue uniform of a green uniform or they get paid by the county, state or city that really doesn’t matter.”
Rader said agencies should bring in the presiding county, state or federal prosecutor at the beginning of each case to dissuade bias.
“I think it is important that you have people who are qualified and people who are unbiased,” Rader said. “If you have that, those are two very important ingredients. And then transparency is absolutely mandatory for community trust and for the officer and the victim.”
When asked at this morning’s press briefing, the task force said it will look into how much of its policies and procedures they plan to make public.
KSHB 41 asked the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office to weigh in on the task force.
The office sent the following statement via email:
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office was invited by Eastern Jackson County police agencies to weigh-in on the planning of this new investigative process in officer-involved incidents. It's commendable that these agencies, who are responsible for how these investigations are conducted, chose to design a system using outside investigators. Our office believes that is necessary to maintain and build the community's trust in law enforcement.