Joshua Tepfer on Why Police Shooting Cases Need Outside Prosecutors
In the aftermath of highly publicized police shootings, a number of states around the country have enacted reforms requiring special prosecutors to investigate police shootings, and many other states are considering them. Chicago, more so than any other jurisdiction, needs to implement this reform.
The demand for special prosecutors is a result of the following dynamic: Local prosecutors work with police officers every day, and depend heavily on officer testimony to obtain convictions. This creates an inherent conflict of interest for a local prosecution office when the police themselves are investigated.
The conflict of interest is exacerbated in Chicago. This is because Cook County has a one-of-a-kind process for major crimes called “felony review,” which creates an especially close, collaborative relationship between local prosecutors and police.