A special investigation into how the Special Investigation Unit works | News
A special investigation into how the Special Investigation Unit works | News

Source: NBC RightNow



The Special Investigation Unit, commonly known as SIU looks into officer-involved incidents that happen in Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties.


These incidents are investigated when bodily harm or death happens at the scenes.


Commander Lee Cantu of the Benton County Sheriff’s office is a member of the SIU.


“When an incident occurs, the involved chief or sheriff will request SIU, and that basically removes the involved agencies and all personnel from the investigation. Its’ basically an independent investigation,” Cantu said.


The team is made up of detectives and administrators from law enforcement agencies. 


Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties, as well as Washington State Patrol, and Fish and Wildlife.


They conduct criminal investigations to determine if there is or isn’t a criminal liability for the people involved.


“You’re a suspect in a homicide. You went to work, you did your job to protect the community, and now you’re the suspect in a homicide investigation,” said Sgt. Chris Littrell of the Kennewick Police Department.


Sgt. Littrell is a veteran police officer with KPD.


Littrell said that he and his brothers in brothers in blue are there to support and help their fellow officers if and when they got through the process.

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“The primary function of the Special Investigations Unit is to do an impartial investigation, transparent investigations, and provide those findings, the investigative findings to the counties prosecutor’s office as well as the involved agencies chief or sheriff, whatever the case may be,” said Cantu.


Sgt. Littrell stressed the importance of checks and balances.


“Police officers in our society have the greatest power and immediate authority than anyone else. The President of the United States can’t arrest you. He can probably call someone. They can’t get search warrants and go inside your house. they can’t place your children in protective custody. We vest those responsibilities and that power in our police officers. So with great power comes great responsibility,” said Littrell.


Littrell says there needs to be some oversight because he among other law enforcement agencies needs to have accountability.