The Los Angeles Police Department says it will create a program to assist the families of people killed during encounters with police—the first of its kind in the nation—reports the Los Angeles Times.
The program will be called the Family Liaison Program, and the LAPD said its goal is to foster better communication with loved ones in the devastating aftermath of death by police or while in police custody.
The LAPD’s investigations into police shootings usually take several months to complete before the Police Commission reviews each case to determine whether officers followed department rules. Relatives of those killed often express frustration with those timelines.
Police Commission President Matt Johnson said that relatives of people fatally shot by LAPD officers often attend the commission’s weekly meetings looking for answers. These requests include wanting to see dashcam or body-cam footage as well as more mundane asks like getting access to documents such as death certificates or police reports—sometimes for peace of mind, but sometimes because insurance companies require them.
“A lot of it is ‘I can’t bury my child’ because they don’t have a death certificate,” Johnson said. “This will give them a specific point of contact.”
Johnson cautioned that the LAPD would still not be able to share certain information with the families because of the “confidential nature” of the investigations into such incidents, and that would most likely include video.
But Johnson explained that a formal liaison could explain how the deaths are investigated and the role of the district attorney’s office and even the coroner’s office.
“These deaths, no matter what the circumstances, are tragic for the deceased’s loved ones, friends and community,” said Johnson at Tuesday’s meeting. “I believe that there is more we can and should do.”
The Times reports that on-duty LAPD officers have shot and killed 14 people so far this year. Last year, on-duty LAPD officers shot 36 people, 21 of whom were killed.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.