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Dallas County DA Releases Revised Policy for Officer Involved Shooting Investigations

The Dallas County District Attorney's Office released revised protocols Monday for handling police shootings and in-custody deaths.

It is an effort to "ensure transparency" and to make sure "investigations do not languish for months or years without appropriate action being taken," Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement.

The group Mothers Against Police Brutality was pleased with the new policy.

"I think it's a step forward," the group's co-founder Sara Mokuria said.

Mokuria went line-by-line Tuesday to compare the previous protocols with the updated version.

While she saw some good, Mokuria took issue with Creuzot only inviting police chiefs from across the county to review the policy in January.

“[Mothers Against Police Brutality] should have been at the table, as well, to ensure that these protocols best fit the needs of all parties involved," she said.

The five-page policy states that following a police or security guard shooting or the death of someone in custody, investigators from the District Attorney's Office Public Integrity Unit will arrive on scene within two hours and will return to the scene during daylight hours within 24 hours to seek possible additional evidence.

Mokuria said the policy is not clear as to what will happen if the investigators recover possible evidence that the law enforcement agency does not accept.

Law enforcement agencies will hand over any available body and dash camera video to the DA's office within 12 hours of a shooting and submit the case to the DA's office within 45 days, unless a delay is warranted, according to the policy.

"That's a huge change," Mokuria said. "We have not had a timeframe for how that information is shared between law enforcement agencies and the district attorney's office."

Dallas Police Association president Mike Mata spoke with NBC 5 about the changes in policy.

"We've always welcomed Dallas County, the DA's office, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, any law enforcement entity to look at any investigation that the Dallas Police Department does at our homicide unit," he said.

However, Mata was less sure of the 45-day timeline to submit cases.

"I think it's very difficult when you put an exact date -- 45 days. I think there might be some issues with that later on, down the way," Mata said.

Mata said he was in favor of expediting the process as a whole.

"I absolutely support that," he said. "We have officers that have been waiting to go to a grand jury for six, eight months. I think that's ridiculous. If this in any way can speed up that process, so that these officers aren't out of work or aren't home on administrative leave, then I'm all for that."

There are portions of the policy that appear to slightly alter the language of the previous policy.

One example is the order in which those involved in a shooting will be informed of a grand jury's decision.

The new version lists the officer's attorney ahead of the victim's family as the first to be informed of the decision regarding whether the case is moving forward to trial.

"For family members, especially grieving families who've lost a loved one, I think it's their right to have that information as soon as possible," Mokuria said.

"In reality who is going in front of the grand jury?" Mata asked. "It's the police officer, the defendant, in that, so I would think that the first person that should be notified is the person who has the possibility of going to trial."

Mokuria also disagreed with the lack of language related to the deceased person's family's ability to obtain body camera footage.

"Not spelling out how information will be released to family members and what timeframe and to the general public is still not transparent enough," she said.

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