JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. – Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and some of the nation’s leading big-city prosecutors spent a year working on a guidance document on how local prosecutors should respond and investigate officer involved shootings. Friday, Baker sat down with FOX 4 to tell us about the findings.
She said one of the recommendations is that prosecutors should respond immediately to a scene where an officer used force. Baker said her office has been doing this for about two or three years now. The findings also said that prosecutors should put together a written internal document that has protocols about how to investigate those cases.
“The decision-making of a prosecutor must be accessible to the public as a whole,” Baker told FOX 4. “I think it’s important that we are there and we are there from the begging and that we are overseeing the whole process.”
Baker served as the co-chair of the committee, which was organized by The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Baker said social media has played an impact in how these situations should be addressed.
“I think for the public, they simply need to know that there’s going to be competence that’s going to follow that disturbing moment and a fair process that’s going to walk through every aspect of the case,” she said.
Baker said it’s all about being transparent and having a plan.
“Our recommendation is for prosecutors to have your process in place, be prepared, don’t wait for chaos to come to your community for you to kind of figure out how you should do this,” she said. “Put thought and energy and time into creating a fair process so that the community knows what to expect.”
Baker says to practice transparency her office puts the final report on her website after the investigation is complete.
“We do respond to these cases very thoroughly, and we issue a report so that the public can easily read those reports and sort of see how we did it,” she said.