Through many years of mental health advocacy, and many peers who feel their civil rights were criminally violated by police treatment, I’d like to share a stiff reality learned while developing training for and training of law enforcement officers. The reality is it’s very difficult to have criminal charges brought against law enforcement officers because the agency responsible for deciding what is criminally actionable is the district attorney.
The DA and police have a unique and close collaboration. Said plainly, the DA depends upon the police to gather and supply the information used in trials prosecuted in court by the DA. This relationship I feel is obvious but that isn’t so with many frustrated peers.
Said equally plainly, there is no professional logic prosecuting the colleagues (law enforcement) necessary for DAs to do their job. It would be like McDonald’s supporting an enviro-friendly ban on methane-producing cows. Only, law enforcement and the DA office depend upon unimpeachable trust where the fast food industry and cows do not require this professional trust.
This isn’t what peers and their families wronged in encounters with law enforcement personnel want to hear, I know, but it’s the reality of many governing systems that professional impunity is near guranteed without external oversight. It’s frustrating for peers and families wronged by this system, and I share my own frustrating experiences to help peers better understand and accept. I suppose I’ve never made it clearer as to why so few law enforcement officers are criminally charged by the DA.
There is civil tort as recourse, and I understand and agree that this often feels like secondary consolation and not justice.
I hope this explanation helps alleviate some frustration for affected peers. I know I feel more at ease with relevant information and subsequent understanding.