Laws, contracts can give police buffer after fatal shootings

Advocates of police reforms after disputed shootings in Chicago and elsewhere say extra protections tailored for officers accused of wrongdoing are unfair and should be scaled back.

The shields for officers are contained in union-negotiated contracts, state laws and departmental directives.

They include waiting periods of up to 10 days before officers have to speak to internal investigators. A common protection is also a ban on launching inquiries on the basis of anonymous complaints.

Unions defend them on the grounds that police work is uniquely dangerous and requires split-second decisions too easily second guessed later by others.

Critics note that civilian suspects don't typically get the same buffers and that the extra protections for officers if there's a question of wrongdoing creates an impression the scales of justice are tipped.