Officer-Involved Violence Policy

Policy 2021-03: Officer-Involved Violence Policy

When a police officer engages in violence against a civilian, it can be wrenching for the broader community. Lamentably, local prosecutor’s offices have not engendered confidence in their ability to fairly evaluate officer-involved violence. Part of that is because of structural issues. Local prosecutors work with local police, day-in and day-out. It is virtually impossible to maintain the appearance of impartiality when a prosecutor must evaluate charges against an officer working for a department with whom the Prosecutor’s Office regularly works.

For that reason, the ACLU, the NAACP, Campaign Zero, and multiple scholars and practitioners have called for special prosecutors to be appointed in cases of alleged police violence. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office agrees with these voices. Accordingly, it is the policy of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to recuse itself from all local cases involving police violence, and to seek the appointment of an independent special prosecutor in all such cases.

It bears emphasis that this Policy is being adopted with the goal of ensuring fair and impartial justice for all parties. Police officers habitually put their lives on the line in the name of public safety—and they deserve fair and impartial justice when they are accused of a crime. The appointment of a special prosecutor in cases involving police violence will ensure that charging decisions are not influenced by the close relationship between prosecutors and the police. Just as important, this Policy will also ensure fair and impartial justice for police officers. Under this Policy, officers who are facing criminal charges will know that their case will be evaluated by an independent prosecutor—not a locally elected Prosecuting Attorney who might be influenced by community pressure.

Read our full Policy Regarding Officer-Involved Violence