A secret grand jury is not appropriate for police shootings.

Today, the Des Moines Register reported on the decision by the grand jury in Polk County to not indict the Des Moines police officer who shot an unarmed man.  (8/27/2015 – “No charges against D.M.  officer” – see link below)  You reported that the prosecutor, Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, said, “This was the eighth fatal police shooting reviewed by a Polk County grand jury since 2007, all of which ended with jurors choosing not to indict.”
Since the grand jury process is highly secret, we don’t know what facts or arguments were presented to the grand jury.  With what we do know, it is hard to imagine that there should be no charges whatsoever brought against the officer.

The prosecutor and the police depend on having a trusting and friendly relationship.  Because of this relationship, the prosecutor clearly has conflict of interest .  The prosecutor could quite easily have a significant bias towards not indicting police officers.  Actually, that is why we have the grand jury system – to have the decision whether or not to indict be made by unbiased citizens.  But the system is flawed.  The entire process is secret, and is led by the prosecutor.  It is not difficult to imagine that the prosecutor could exert significant influence on the grand jury to not indict, and then be off the hook politically because he did not make the decision.  Did that happen in this case?  We will never know because of the secrecy of the process.

We should either make the process public and transparent, or get rid of the grand jury system for police shootings.
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