January 02, 2018
In a report released Tuesday, a grand jury says the Pennsylvania State Police should halt its own investigations into shootings by members of its ranks in favor of independent inquiries “free from potential bias or conflicts of interest.”
Northampton County prosecutor John Morganelli asked for the grand jury after state police refused to allow county detectives to take the lead on an investigation of a fatal shooting by troopers near Easton, according to the Associated Press.
The grand jury's recommendations included:
• That the commissioner of the state police strongly consider adopting a best practices protocol on officer-involved shootings compiled by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, or, in the alternative, "adopt a practice and protocol that will involve an independent agency as the lead investigating agency in such matters."
• That the PSP strongly consider the use of body cameras for all state troopers, "particularly in light of the deficiencies associated with the present motor vehicle recording devices." The grand jury noted that the agency ignored a similar recommendation made by a Dauphin County grand jury in 2014.
• Forwarding the report to Gov. Tom Wolf, state Attorney General Josh XXX and the state legislature for whatever action they deem appropriate.
The grand jury also said state police brass “have a somewhat arrogant opinion” of PSP’s “superiority” over other law enforcement agencies, contributing to the agency’s insistence on handling trooper shooting probes internally.
Ryan Tarkowski, state police spokesman, says the agency remains confident in its procedures but will review the grand jury report, the AP reported.