Possible Changes For Internal Affairs - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Possible Changes For Internal Affairs

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Questions raised over the way Internal Affairs investigations are handled at Savannah-Chatham Metro Police prompted the City Manager to raise the issue at last week's Police Policy Committee meeting.

The issue was raised by Stephanie Cutter because she says restoring integrity to the Department is nearly as big a priority as finding a new Chief is. The City Manager says she'd like to have a team study the way internal affairs is handled at other departments around the nation and come up with some recommendations.

The I.A. Department currently reports to the police chief and that raised some concerns after it was revealed the District Attorney's Office is refusing to prosecute cases involving two officers who had been cleared following an internal affairs investigation into their actions during a major drug investigation. Those two officers were placed on administrative leave by the new Interim Chief. WSAV Crime Expert Gerry Long says there are a number of different ways internal affairs investigations can be handled, "Some people do it where there is a civilian component and then you have officers who are doing the investigation that report to this board and then come up with a recommendation. You have some that under union rules - in states where they have that - the officers are compelled to participate in this. And then some - you have a civilian review board that all they do is read whatever the complaints are and they just make that kind of public knowledge and have a discussion about it." She says the issue that can come up then centers the way the members of the board are selected and the authority that board might have to mete out discipline since the officers do not work for the civilian review board. Recommendations would typically go to the chief which is what currently happens at S.C.M.P.D. An Internal Affairs investigation centers on whether there was a violation of departmental policy - the chief is ultimately responsible for determining any disciplinary actions. Long says, "Faith has to be in the process and in the people that are involved in the process and you have to have faith that they are doing the right thing for the right reason."

Long says she believes it's important the team studying the issue not go in with a foregone conclusion about the problem and a need for change- - but really study the issue and what might work best here.

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