Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | fathers | sons | police | shootings

Two Fathers of Sons Killed by Cops: Independent Probes Needed

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 11:35 PM

The fathers of two men who were shot and killed by on-duty police officers told Newsmax TV on Wednesday that they want law enforcement agencies to adopt the practices of another field — aviation — when investigating shootings committed by their own.

The standard police procedure of "internal investigation and self-review" does not produce accountability in such incidents or reduce the likelihood of more bloodshed, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Bell told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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Aviation, by contrast, with its rigorous and time-tested system of "external investigation and independent review" has, over decades, drastically reduced the number of accidents, crashes and deaths, said Bell.

Bell's son, Michael E. Bell Jr., was 21 years old in 2004 when a Kenosha, Wis., police officer shot him in the head during a traffic stop in his driveway as his mother and sister looked on. He was unarmed.

Bell was joined on "MidPoint" by William B. Scott, a retired journalist and author whose son, 38-year-old West Point graduate Erik Scott, was shot dead in 2010 by Las Vegas police outside a Costco while being questioned about a firearm for which he had a concealed-carry permit.

Both men have been pressing for reform in reviews of police shootings since their sons' deaths, but a spate of more recent high-profile incidents, including the death of Michael Brown last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, has brought greater attention to the two fathers' efforts.

Scott said he and Bell both lobby for police departments to adopt the aviation model of incident investigation.

"They work," Scott said of the aviation industry's investigative methods, "and if law enforcement would adopt many of the same types of procedures, we'd see a lot of these officer-involved shootings and deaths drop dramatically as well."

Scott said the aviation model, anchored by the "truly independent" National Transportation Safety Board, also produces a continuously self-reinforcing culture of accountability among all players in civil aviation.

"They did it for self-survival, if you will, because how many people would jump on an airliner if they knew there was a high chance, a high probability, they wouldn't get to their destination?" he said.

"For instance, law enforcement today is killing three people every single day of the year, year after year, and that number keeps climbing," said Scott. "What if aviation was doing the same thing?"

Bell said reform in police-shooting probes would consist of three pillars: external investigation, independent review, and distribution of data and findings to peers in order to learn from an incident and minimize a repeat of it.

"That's why the aviation industry is successful; law enforcement needs to copy it," said Bell, who saw his state, Wisconsin, become the first in the nation in 2014 to require that investigations of police officers be conducted by an outside body.

Scott said political will to replicate the Wisconsin model elsewhere is still in short supply, and police unions in many localities are pushing back hard against third-party investigations of their conduct.

Bell said that "police need to be part of the solution," and that in Wisconsin, many were.

"Some of the unions were pretty upset that the other unions were making the whole profession look bad," he said. "And so, they saw an opportunity for change here."

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The fathers of two men who were shot and killed by on-duty police officers told Newsmax TV on Wednesday that they want law enforcement agencies to adopt the practices of another field — aviation — when investigating shootings committed by their own.
fathers, sons, police, shootings
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2015-35-18
Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 11:35 PM
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