Prosecutors set guidelines on police shooting probes

HARRISBURG (AP) — The group that represents Pennsylvania prosecutors issued guidelines Tuesday for investigating shootings by police officers, recommending that departments do not investigate their own and that the shooters’ names should not be released unless they are charged.

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association outlined a set of best practices that include having the district attorneys themselves direct the investigation and have county detectives or a neighboring police department carry it out. In smaller counties, where the state police provide much of the law enforcement coverage, the district attorney can get troopers from another region to investigate, the association said.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, who chairs the group that is developing best practices for state prosecutors, said other counties expressed interest after his own agency developed guidelines on officer-involved shootings several years ago.

“All of us learned, as we went through more police-involved shootings, what little things needed to be tweaked here and there,” Hogan said. “With the national situation, it became apparent that we should come up with guidelines that gave guidance to everybody.”

The recommendations apply whenever an officer shoots at someone, whether the target is hit or not.

The document describes how the shooting scene should be secured, firearms should not be moved and evidence such as body cameras and photographs should be collected and kept secure.