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Toppenish police seeking non-law enforcement representatives in the community

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TOPPENISH, Wash.-- In response to a new state law requirement, the Toppenish Police Department is seeking non-law enforcement community members to potentially help out during investigations of officer-involved shootings.

TPD says officer-involved shootings in Toppenish involving death or bodily harm are currently investigated by the Yakima Valley Special Investigations Unit.

The Special Investigations Unit is comprised of investigators from the Washington State Patrol, the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and the police departments in Union Gap, Selah, Yakima, Moxee, Toppenish, Sunnyside, Grandview and Zillah.

Also, selected members would assist in the following ways:

  • Participate in the vetting, interviewing, and/or selection of the Independent Investigative Team.
  • Review conflict of interest statements by the investigators during each incident.
  • Be present at the briefings with the involved agency’s Chief of Sheriff.
  • Have access to the investigation file upon its completion.
  • Be provided a copy of all press releases/communication to media prior to release.
  • Review notification of equipment use of the involved agency.
  • Sign a binding confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each investigation in which they are involved.

As required, police say selected members may be called to assist throughout the year, like weekends, holidays and overnight hours.

The recently passed Washington Administrative Code 139-12 Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act – Independent Investigations Criteria requires a minimum of two non-law enforcement community representatives to be assigned to each investigation team.

According to the WAC, the non-law enforcement representatives, “should have credibility with and ties to the communities impacted by police use of deadly force.”

Interested volunteers should submit their name and contact information, no later than June 30, 2020, to Chief Curtis Ruggles of the Toppenish Police Department by calling (509) 865-4355.

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Members selected to participate in this capacity will be notified shortly after the submission closing date.

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