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Crime & Justice

Officer Involved: how to have unbiased reviews of shootings




Michael Bell Sr. (center) and his family stand near one of the billboards they bought in a campaign to bring awareness to internal police investigations. Bell's son was shot and killed by police in Kenosha, Wis.
Michael Bell Sr. (center) and his family stand near one of the billboards they bought in a campaign to bring awareness to internal police investigations. Bell's son was shot and killed by police in Kenosha, Wis.
Michael Bell Jr's family

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When there is an officer-involved shooting, who investigates it?

In Los Angeles county, the district attorney's office looks at every shooting and the LAPD Police Commission has a civilian-staffed Inspector General's office to probe officer actions.

But in many places, the review of officer-involved shootings is handled internally by the police department that employs the officer.

Last year, Wisconsin became the very first state where use of deadly force – by law – must be reviewed by an independent investigation.

Michael Bell spearheaded the law's passage after his son was killed by police in 2004. 

"To my surprise, within 48 hours, before eye witness statements were taken by everybody and before crime lab reports were in, the police investigated themselves," he told Take Two. "They ruled the shooting justified and went and told the community within 48 hours that the shooting was a justified shooting."

Can an independent commission prevent this kind of rush to judgment? 

Stan Stojkovic, dean of the school of social welfare and expert in criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, joins Take Two to look at whether Wisconsin's law bolsters the police review process or is simply about looking good politically.