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New agency to investigate police use of deadly force delayed

A man in a suit, tie and mask sits at a table with a green table cloth in a gym-like space. He is surrounded by 16 people also wearing masks.
Kari Plog
Gov. Jay Inslee signs a dozen police accountability measures into law Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at the Eastside Community Center in Tacoma. Among them was a measure to establish a new Office of Independent Investigations within the governor’s office to investigate police deadly force incidents that occur after July 1, 2022.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A new state agency was mandated to start investigating police use of deadly force cases on July 1, but it appears it actually won’t be ready for months.

“It’s just a lot to get done. Standing up an office from nothing is incredibly difficult,” said Roger Rogoff, appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to head up the new agency, the Office of Independent Investigations, KING5 reported.

Under current law, when a police officer uses deadly force, detectives from surrounding agencies investigate and refer the case to county prosecutors for charging decisions.

Under a law passed last year, the new agency has the authority to conduct investigations of deadly force use by police officers. Those investigations will presented to county prosecutors.

Rogoff said it’s not clear how his agency will handle future investigations. There are dozens of positions to fill, policies and procedures to write. The agency does not have a permanent workspace.

Rogoff said the work is too important to rush.

“I think we’d be falling out of the gate if we started conducting investigations when we weren’t ready,” said Rogoff.

Rogoff, a former King County prosecutor and Superior Court judge, said the judicial system is due for the kind of changes that could result from his new agency.

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