In keeping with a move toward increased transparency and objectivity, and in response to concerns over the way police shootings have at times been investigated by the agencies whose officers were involved, a group of local law enforcement agencies have pooled their resources and expertise to form the King County Investigative Response Team (KCIRT.)
At a news conference this morning, chiefs from several King County police departments as well as King County Sheriff John Urquhart and a representative of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office gathered to announce the June 1 launch of a multi-jurisdictional task force that will investigate officer-involved shootings.
The team was formed to utilize best practices advocated by the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs when investigating police shootings or other major incidents, according to Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo.
Thorough, objective and transparent investigations that are conducted in a timely and professional manner are important to building and maintaining trust in the community, she said.
In addition to Bellevue police and the Sheriff’s Office, the King County team will include representatives from the Washington State Patrol and police departments from Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Bothell, Mercer Island, Snoqualmie and Black Diamond.
The response team will utilize the skills of the departments’ most experienced investigators and supervisors while also incorporating the latest technological equipment and techniques, said Bellevue PD Major Mike Johnson, who will head up the new team.
The King County team is similar to the Snohomish County Multi-Agency Response Team that has investigated incidents involving law enforcement officers since its inception six years ago.
The Seattle Police Department, which investigates shootings by its officers, is not part of the task force. But KCIRT supervisors said the response team’s resources and expertise would be available by request to any King County law enforcement agency.