“Public trust in policing is built through transparency and accountability. The commonwealth’s district attorneys have offered some common sense approaches to officer-involved shootings, and they can also go further than these guidelines to build public trust.
“The DAs’ guidelines recognize that police departments should not investigate their own, and officers involved in a shooting should not have the opportunity to corroborate their stories before being interviewed by investigators. Additionally, the DAs acknowledge the importance of interviewing officers involved in a shooting as soon as possible.
“These guidelines could do more to promote independence, though, by also calling for an independent prosecutor. County DAs work with their local police departments every day. While a local prosecutor can act fairly and objectively, the appearance is that he is investigating his friends. Independent prosecutors eliminate that potential for public mistrust.
“Finally, the goal of transparency is completely undermined by not identifying a police officer who has shot someone unless he is criminally charged. Identifying the officer provides key information to promote accountability.
“If an officer followed his training and protected the community, we should know that. If an officer has a history of misusing his power, we should know that, too. Our knowledge about public employees who have the power to use force against us should not hinge on whether or not that person has been charged with a crime.
“Governor Wolf vetoed a bill this month to hide the identity of officers who injure or kill someone, an acknowledgment from the commonwealth’s most prominent elected official that transparency matters.”