And to that point, all law enforcement agencies should have a policy defining and establishing criteria and guidelines for conducting post-conviction investigations to ensure they serve the ends of justice. Such policies should include an internal protocol for identifying flaws in the initial investigation or to determine that scientific evidence has yielded undependable results.
A post-conviction investigation’s objectives are two-fold: First, to review and investigate all currently available evidence and report such evidence that supports the innocence of the individual initially charged and convicted of the crime; second, to diligently work to identify the person responsible for the crime and, if they develop probable cause for such an arrest, to accomplish the arrest.
Finally, police leaders must have the personal courage and professional independence to challenge anyone who might seek to compromise those standards. The police should lead the charge in freeing anyone convicted wrongfully. We always must be on the side that seeks the truth.
Louis M. Dekmar is police chief of LaGrange, Ga.