Outside audit is good for police

Interim Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper’s request to the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police may be a bit unusual. It’s not every day you ask outsiders to assess the internal workings of your department. However, the past month has been anything but ordinary for the Grand Junction Police Department.

Two officers working for the department were charged with criminal acts in the past month, and both had previously been the subjects of internal affairs investigations by the police department. The internal investigations involved allegations of misconduct similar to those for which the men later faced criminal charges.

Camper has asked the state police chief’s group to perform an audit of the internal affairs investigations process used by Grand Junction police.

Good for him.

It’s human nature to keep problems involving your own organization hidden as much as possible. And many a top administrator — especially one with only a temporary job such as Camper — could have looked for ways to keep the internal-affairs questions as far from public view as possible, a problem for their successor to deal with. Others would circle the wagons and say, “Our process is working just fine.”

Instead, Camper asked the state police chiefs group to examine the investigative process used by the police department. That examination won’t cost the city any money.

“I want to look at the details of our process,” Camper told The Daily Sentinel’s Paul Shockley. The chief said he also wants the outside auditors to advise him on whether there are more up-to-date techniques and procedures the department should use for internal investigations.

We should note that Camper has said he is pleased with the way complaints or allegations of officer misconduct have been handled by the department. Most of those investigations occurred before Camper became interim chief, a little more than a month ago.

But when two officers, who have been the subject of previous internal investigations, are accused of new offenses similar to the first ones, questions should be raised. How good were the internal investigations? How effective were the actions implemented by the department in the wake of those investigations?

We applaud Chief Camper for recognizing that experts from outside the department are needed to seek unbiased answers to those sorts of questions.


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