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Inside Olympia — Roger Rogoff, Office of Independent Investigations

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In 2021, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and other cases like it, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill creating a new Washington State Office of Independent Investigations (OII). Its mission is to conduct unbiased investigations of cases involving police use of deadly force. The OII is unique among the states. It’s led by a civilian director and will, when fully functioning, employ civilian investigators.

Roger Rogoff was chosen as the OII’s first director. He is a former county prosecutor, assistant U.S. attorney, and King County Superior Court judge.

This week we sit down for a full hour with Roger Rogoff to discuss the work of the OII. This follows an initial Inside Olympia interview with him a year ago.

Rogoff says creating an office like this from whole cloth is not easy. It requires hiring and training some 40 investigators. Creating new policies and procedures, and working on interoperability with every police agency in the state. It’s been a slow process and two years after the legislature created the office, it has yet to launch an investigation.

But, this summer the office began accepting requests to review prior deadly force investigations. One case, the death of Andrea Thomas Churna, who was fatally shot by Redmond police in 2020 after calling 911 for help, is under formal review. Depending on what OII investigators find during the review, they may recommend a full investigation.

When will the OII be fully up and functioning, and able to take on new investigations? What are the biggest barriers and challenges? Host Austin Jenkins puts those questions and more to Roger Rogoff, director of the Office of Independent Investigations.