How does the ‘Critical Incident Task Force’ investigate police-involved deaths?

While the investigation is ongoing, which can take weeks or months, agencies involved keep information close to the chest.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 3:23 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Currently, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office is investigating police-involved deaths within their jurisdiction.

Family members of those involved in the incidents have reached out to KMVT with concerns about the information they are receiving.

“I can only imagine what they’re going through. They’re coming to me for answers. However, I can’t give them certain answers without potentially jeopardizing the case,” said Lt. Perry Barnhill from the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

Cases including deaths where officers are involved are subject to extended investigations by the Critical Incident Task Force, a multi-agency team that investigates the circumstances of the death in question.

“Any time there is an officer-involved shooting, an in-custody death, whether it be in a patrol car or in a jail setting, the agency head, for whatever agency it occurred in contacts our dispatch center and this travel team is dispatched to the scene,” said Barnhill.

The task force comes from an outside agency, investigating with an outside perspective.

While the investigation is ongoing, which can take weeks or months, agencies involved keep information close to the chest.

“We’ll do an initial press release, just basically stating what has happened and if there is any threat to the public or not,” said Barnhill.

The lack of information can be a point of frustration for those who are near the investigation, but Lieutenant Barnhill says limiting information releases is paramount to a successful investigation.

“We don’t want information about what has happened out in the public, that way if we’re doing an interview and somebody tells us information they know and we know that the only way they could have known that information is if they were actually on the scene, that can direct which way we take off with our investigation,” added Barnhill.