On Jan. 5, 2018, Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners was killed after responding to a call in the parking lot of the Bed Bath & Beyond store in Orem.
The Utah County Attorney’s office took on the investigation which was the protocol at the time. The man who shot Shinners, a year later, has not been to court.
On Tuesday, the Orem City Council was presented with an update on a newly-combined Officer Involved Critical Incident investigation protocol intended to help with investigations and to take the load off the county attorney’s office.
Orem, and all policing cities and agencies in Utah County, have agreed to an Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) protocol to provide procedures and guidelines to ensure every officer-involved investigation is conducted completely and impartially.
“All the chiefs got together to revamp the OICI agreement with the county,” Giles said. They are just waiting on the last few signatures on the agreement.
Giles said that, in the past, the critical incident protocol just involved officer shootings and was called the Officer Incident Shooting, or OIS. The revamp includes not just shootings resulting in death but incidents that involve bodily harm, including stabbings.
Use of a stun gun does not reach the level of a critical incident according to Giles unless there is a death involved.
Giles said county agencies have had protocols in place for more than two decades that meet the Utah Code. Each agency would report their incidents to the county attorney and the county would quickly get bogged down in investigations, paperwork and court.
With the new protocol, the Task Force Management Team will have jurisdiction throughout Utah County with criminal investigation having priority.
The update includes the three-member task force manager/commander team, an incident manager and case officer.
If an incident occurs in two or more jurisdictions, each agency becomes a venue agency.
Giles said that having this protocol is a best practice dynamic. Some areas of the country still have their own agency investigate officer-involved shootings, leaving them open to ethics concerns or impartiality.
With the new protocol, parallel investigations can take place, including administrative and criminal.
It becomes a very busy, and often confusing, time as information is released to city leadership, the media and the community, Giles added.
“In situations like that some information is not out for as long as a year,” Giles said.
Also involved in the protocol are the criminal investigators, employing agency liaisons, Utah County Forensics Unit, the Task Force Public Information Officer and the Utah County Evidence team.
Giles said while it appears to have more teams involved, it will actually make investigations go quicker and smoother. Potential court appearances will also happen in a timelier manner.