Yakima Police Make Changes After In-Custody Death
Changes are being made at the Yakima Police Department as a result of the death of a woman taken into protective custody earlier this year. The department on Thursday released a 40-page report about the June death of Tiffany Eubanks. In the future department officials say they'll release more information about high profile incidents. As a result of the incident the department has stopped transporting people who are having a mental health crisis that's coupled with drug abuse.
In the report the Chief says the department disciplined Lt. Chad Stephens, the on-duty watch commander for the Criminal Investigations Division for violating department policy in the death. Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic has found no officers broke any laws and will face no charges in the death of Eubanks.
"The Yakima Police Department has announced that they will begin a new practice in addressing the outcomes of high-profile incidents. Chief Murray will send a detailed letter to the community which will contain a summary of facts, a timeline, applicable state law and police policy, the review undertaken to assess the incident, any disciplinary action taken by the chief, and any changes the department will make as a result.
Chief Murray said, “One of the key elements to establishing or maintaining community trust is transparency. I personally believe that one of the greatest factors in the civil unrest between many communities and their respective police departments is attributable to distrust. I also believe this stems from a traditional lack of transparency, leading to illegitimacy and thus distrust. Many community members, especially those most often intersecting with law enforcement (and also often in poor areas with a high minority population) do not believe that police involved incidents are properly reviewed. They are told to “trust us” and then don’t hear anything but a short version of “This case was cleared” or “not cleared” with little understanding or explanation of why. That has served to foment the belief that there is actually little review and that police department’s just “protect their own” and “wait it out” taking months to respond.
I think we can and should do better. As a result, I am committed to writing a letter to the community regarding any high-profile incident."