"The fact that we're being open and diligent in this investigation should build confidence in this department," said Police Chief Thomas Hyers of Springettsbury Township, a southern Pennsylvania community about 100 miles west of Philadelphia.
The cases involve the arrests of two people - Debra Williams in April 2011 and Steven Landis in August 2012 - recorded by video cameras in township police cruisers.
In the Williams case, the video shows an officer striking her while she was handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser. In the Landis case, it shows an officer throwing him to the ground and striking him.
"I think they speak for themselves," Hyers said of the videos, "and now the matter is under investigation."
The chief said the investigation will be conducted by the York County District Attorney's office and state police.
"We choose to be open and transparent with everyone," Hyers, a 31-year police veteran, said. "That's how we operate our department, an open book." The case, he said, "gives us the opportunity to gauge the performance of our officers out on the street."
On Tuesday morning, Hyers said he hadn't been formally served with lawsuits filed last week against his department in the two cases.
He said the officers involved in the cases - Chad Moyer, Gregory Hadfield and William Polizzotto - have been placed on administrative desk duty while the investigation is conducted. Hyers said that was standard operating procedure and should not be seen as an admission that the officers acted improperly.
That wasn't enough for attorney Devon Jacob, representing Williams and Landis in their suits.
"The videos themselves are probable cause to arrest the police officers," said Jacob, a former State College police officer and deputy attorney general who has represented police in the past. "When a suspect is handcuffed in the back of the police car, that's the end of it."
Jacob is not confident the district attorney's office can conduct an impartial investigation, saying the district attorney "has already taken sides" by prosecuting his clients.
Williams pleaded guilty to assault - related to the original domestic dispute that led to her encounter with police that night - in return for having resisting arrest and other charges dismissed.
Landis still faces charges of resisting arrest and other offenses related to the warrant police were serving when he was arrested. At the time, he was being sought by Northern York County Regional Police on a warrant related to a domestic dispute.
In Landis' case, Jacob said a family member went to police a day or two after his arrest - while Landis was in the hospital with five broken ribs - to lodge a complaint.
"Nothing was done," he said.
The videos of both arrests had been part of the cases against his clients and have been available to police and the district attorney's office, he said. Jacob said he believes the state attorney general's office should handle the investigation.
"If this happened in State College, these officers wouldn't be on the street. They would have been charged," Jacob said. "If anything, I'm trying to better the police department. These officers shouldn't be on the street."
District Attorney Tom Kearney, speaking later Tuesday, said in the Williams case, the charge she pleaded guilty to was related to the domestic incident. Charges related to conduct in the police car were dismissed.
In that case, his office did not prosecute Williams on any charges related to the alleged police brutality so he doesn't believe his office took any stand on the police brutality allegations.
Addressing the assertion that he would not be impartial, Kearney said, "As a practical matter, every time there is a police incident, the community has elected me to make a decision based on the evidence. I don't see this as a conflict. I will make the best decision I can based on the evidence presented to me."
Since the videos provide the most compelling evidence in the case, Hyers said he's been asked several times whether he regrets having cameras in his department's cruisers.
"Not at all," he said. "The cameras did exactly what they're supposed to do - record our police officers and the people they have contact with."
Outside the Springettsbury Township Police Department on Tuesday, a half-dozen protesters held up signs that read, "Stop Police Brutality."
One of the protesters, Steven Kline, 28, said police should be able to defend themselves, but in the cases that are subjects of the lawsuits, he believes they went too far.
"I'm out here because I want my son to grow up in a safe world and learn that he should respect the police, not be afraid of them," he said.