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Southern States PBA expresses concern regarding departure from standard procedure in charging officers

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         Contact:          Justin Blackburn

                                                                                                            jblackburn@sspba.org           

 

Southern States PBA expresses concern regarding departure from standard procedure in charging officers

 

June 19, 2020 (McDonough, GA)--Southern States PBA (SSPBA), which includes over 58,000 law enforcement officer members across the Southeast, spoke out today regarding the environment that law enforcement officers are currently working in and concerns over rushes to judgment and second-guessing of actions taken by officers.

 

“Our association is very familiar with investigations of officer-involved shootings,” said Jim Wright, SSPBA general counsel.  “In Georgia, it is standard procedure for the GBI to investigate such shootings.  Our office has worked on numerous shootings over the years, and we appreciate the role that the GBI plays.  They are routinely asked by local police departments to handle these investigations so as to ensure the integrity of the investigation and to eliminate claims of bias or undue influence on the part of the involved agency.  Once the investigation is complete, the case file is presented to the district attorney of the judicial circuit where the incident occurred for review and possible presentation to the grand jury.”

 

“The grand jury’s role is to consider all of the evidence presented, including the law of justification and self-defense, and to determine whether the officer’s actions were justified under the facts and the law,” Wright continued.  “If the grand jury determines that the officer’s actions were not justified, then the grand jury is authorized to return an indictment charging the officer, and a warrant for his or her arrest is issued by a superior court judge.”

 

“The process typically takes time to ensure fairness to all involved,” Wright said. “The bringing of charges in a matter of a few days virtually never happens and actually raises concerns regarding a rush to judgment without the proper consideration of the law that applies to the officer’s conduct.”

 

“We understand the seriousness of a situation where there is a loss of life.  This seriousness is the very reason why a thorough investigation is necessary,” Wright added.

 

“Police officers don’t give up their constitutional rights when they put on their badge,” Wright said.  “The Constitution provides that one’s liberty cannot be taken away without due process. This protection exists for all citizens, including police officers.”

 

Jim Wright is a former law enforcement officer and former elected district attorney.  He has served as a PBA attorney and has been general counsel for SSPBA since 2018.

 

The the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. is a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession.  PBA members are full-time or retired employees of the various federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement and correctional agencies..  This professional association, funded by membership dues and citizen contributions, provides legal, legislative, disciplinary and other representation to member officers as well as a salary replacement death benefit to members’ beneficiaries.  The PBA prohibits members from engaging in or condoning any strike by law enforcement officers, electing instead to represent members through aggressive political action. For more information, please visit our website at www.sspba.org.

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