The district attorneys involved in presenting the guidelines stress that Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are very different. This will give them an idea of how to handle these investigations, but they’ll have to customize them to their own unique situations.
“Most of us have been following these points all along,” Cambria County district attorney Kelly Callihan tells WTAJ.
Callihan says there are two major guidelines to follow when dealing with officer involved shootings. The first one is that there must be an independent investigation, “So in our county, what we do is the state police will come in and investigate if this happens at a local police department.”
Earlier this year state police investigated the three Johnstown police officers who used deadly force.
“There has to be an unbiased clear look at the facts by an outside independent agency,” Callihan explains.
The second requirement Callihan emphasizes is reporting the findings to the public.
“I think why the public gets upset is that they want answers right away and it takes time for us to find out the answers and deliver them.”
She says this initiative is not in response to anyone not following the rules, but is meant as a proactive measure.
Callihan goes on to say that it’s good for police and prosecutors to have a coordinated response. However, each district attorney will have to decide for themselves when it is appropriate to release certain information, like the names or footage of the incident because of the impact it could have on the people involved.
“Is it going to have a strong, stressful impact on the deceased’s possibly mother, father, or child, those are questions we have to consider,” Callihan says.