ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – Police chiefs from across the Commonwealth of Virginia are looking for ways to improve safety and build trust within their communities. Dozens of officers gathered at the annual conference for the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. Some of the topics discussed including police training, safety and officer-involved shootings.
During the conference, law enforcement from across the state examined best practices for handling tense situations.
“How they can do good investigations and communicate what is going on with the officer-involved shooting with their community and really try to exculpate the process but actually still do a thorough and fair process,” said Dana Schrad with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Schrad said before releasing dash cam video or other information, departments must consider an officer’s rights as an employee and the integrity of the investigation.
“Sometimes that immediate communication can interfere with a criminal investigation or put a victim or witness at further risk,” she said.
When it comes to the cases involving police, prosecutors and defense attorneys said they now face unique challenges compared to years past, including social media.
“How quickly information spreads and it might be correct information, it might be dreadfully wrong information,” said Denise Lunsford a former Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Lunsford said police involved incidences are complex.
“Knowing the unique case law and law that applies to questioning officers. You are questioning someone in the course of an investigation but you are also questioning someone in the course of their employment,” said Lunsford.
The conference runs through Wednesday.