This week, 40 law enforcement officers, mostly from the Golden Triangle, are meeting on the Mississippi State campus to sharpen their interviewing and investigating skills.
That, in itself, would commendable. We are encouraged our law enforcement agencies are taking these steps to improve their skills, which makes them better at the important work they do on behalf of all citizens.
We are further pleased to note that the District Attorney’s office is footing the bill for this training. DA Scott Colom has provided the funds for the three-day conference to the tune of $5,500.
While everyone understands that law enforcement and prosecutors are part of the same process, too often there is a sense the two groups work independently of each other, sort of a conveyor-built system of criminal justice where the D.A.’s office simply takes what is provided by law enforcement and proceeds with its role in the system.
But our justice system works best when law enforcement and prosecutors are invested in each other’s work. This week’s conference is evidence this collaborative approach to justice is something both parties are embracing.
In a sense, law enforcement provides the raw materials of our justice system and the success of the court system relies, to a great extent, on the quality of the material provided them. In some cases, that might mean a criminal is more likely to be held accountable for his crime. In others, it might mean a suspect, wrongfully accused, sees the justice system works as intended. When a person is wrongfully prosecuted, justice is harmed twice: The innocent are punished while the guilty go free.
We believe efforts to help law enforcement improve their basic investigative techniques is one of the best ways of ensuring our justice system is fair and effective.
We commend Colom’s office for providing the funds for this training as we commend law enforcement for viewing this training not as an effort by the D.A. to tell officers how to do their jobs, but as a genuine effort to make the entire system better.
It is a win not only for these two groups, but for all citizens who rely on our justice system.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.