In response to a new requirement in Washington State Law, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is asking for volunteers who are not members of law enforcement to serve as community representatives during investigations of law-enforcement-involved shootings.
Officer-involved shootings in Washington involving death or bodily harm are investigated by regional Critical Incident Investigation Teams. Locally, the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team is composed of Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Lewis County agencies, as well as the Washington State Patrol.
“This CIIT will, on occasion, assist other non-member agencies with similar-type investigations. The CIIT is tasked with conducting independent criminal investigations into these events (completely independent of the involved agency), which upon completion are referred to the local prosecutor’s office for review,” according to a news release from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.
The recently passed Washington Administrative Code 139-12 Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act — Independent Investigations Criteria requires a minimum of two non-law enforcement community representatives to be assigned to each investigation team.
According to the WAC, the non-law-enforcement representatives, “should have credibility with and ties to communities impacted by police use of deadly force.”
Chiefs and Sheriffs of each agency are required to solicit volunteers and come up with a roster of individuals willing to serve as volunteers on the investigations.
Volunteers would “participate in the vetting, interviewing, and/or selection of IIT investigators,” review “conflict of interest statements by investigators in each incident,” be present at briefings, have access to the investigation file when it is complete and be provided a copy of all press releases before they are released, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Volunteers will also be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each investigation in which they are involved.
“With the WAC taking effect today, the need is urgent,” states the press release, sent out Monday. “There is an active local investigation which CIIT is seeking community representatives.”
The region 3 team, led by Mason County in this case, is currently investigating a Centralia officer-involved shooting that took place last week.
Interested volunteers should submit their name no later than Jan.13, 2020, to Chief Deputy Dusty Breen of the LCSO by calling (360) 748-9286. Members selected to participate in this capacity will be notified shortly after the submission closing date.