We have been getting hundreds of formula emails under the heading “8 can’t wait” urging us to adopt police reform.
This specific language isn’t currently in our policy manual however, management and the Richmond Police Officers Association are in the meet and confer process regarding language that includes de-escalation in our use of force policy.
Current language in our Policy Manual:
300.3.2 FACTORS USED TO DETERMINE THE REASONABLENESS OF FORCE
When determining whether to apply force and evaluating whether an officer has used reasonable force, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, as time and circumstances permit. This can be a related to “slowing things down.”
(a) Immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others. This can be related to the question of distance.
(h) The availability of other options and their possible effectiveness. This addresses the consideration of other means
(k) Potential for injury to officers, suspects and others. This addresses the potential minimization of the actual use of force.
HOWEVER, it is specifically addressed in the section dealing with mental illness.
418.3 OFFICER CONSIDERATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Any officer responding to or handling a call involving a suspected mentally disabled individual or an involuntary mental illness commitment should consider utilizing the following as time and circumstances reasonably permit:
(a) Any available information that might assist in determining the cause and nature of the mental illness or developmental disability.
(b) Conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques.
(c) Language that is appropriate for interacting with a mentally disabled person.
(d) If circumstances permit, alternatives to deadly force.
(e) Any available community resources that can assist in dealing with a mentally disabled individual.
Prohibiting officers from using maneuvers that cut off oxygen or blood flow, including chokeholds or carotid restraints, which often result in unnecessary death or serious injury.
We do not use any language with the word “choke” in our policy.
300.3.4 CAROTID CONTROL HOLD
Richmond officers shall not use the carotid control hold.
Failing to require officers to intervene and stop excessive or unnecessary force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.
300.2.1 Duty to Intercede- Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.
4. Failing to restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic.
300.4.1 SHOOTING AT MOVING VEHICLES
Shots fired at a moving vehicle, whether approaching or fleeing, are rarely effective and are generally discouraged.
(a) Unless it reasonably appears that it would endanger officers or the public, officers are expected to move out of the path of any approaching vehicle.
(b) This is not intended to restrict an officer's right to use deadly force directed at the operator or passenger of a vehicle when it is reasonably perceived that the vehicle is being used as a weapon, or firearms are being used, or have been used from the vehicle against the officer or others.
Failing to limit the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance and specific characteristics such as age, size, or disability.
300.3.2 FACTORS USED TO DETERMINE THE REASONABLENESS OF FORCE
When determining whether to apply force and evaluating whether an officer has used reasonable force, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, as time and circumstances permit.
These factors include, but are not limited to:
(a) Immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others.
(b) The conduct of the individual being confronted, as reasonably perceived by the officer
at the time.
(c) Officer/subject factors (age, size, relative strength, skill level, injuries sustained, level
of exhaustion or fatigue, the number of officers available vs. subjects).
(d) The effects of drugs or alcohol.
(e) Subject's mental state or capacity.
(f) Proximity of weapons or dangerous improvised devices.
(g) The degree to which the subject has been effectively restrained and his/her ability to
resist despite being restrained.
(h) The availability of other options and their possible effectiveness.
(i) Seriousness of the suspected offense or reason for contact with the individual.
(j) Training and experience of the officer.
(k) Potential for injury to officers, suspects and others.
(l) Whether the person appears to be resisting, attempting to evade arrest by flight or is attacking the officer.
(m) The risk and reasonably foreseeable consequences of escape.
(n) The apparent need for immediate control of the subject or a prompt resolution of the situation.
(o) Whether the conduct of the individual being confronted no longer reasonably appears to pose an imminent threat to the officer or others.
(p) Prior contacts with the subject or awareness of any propensity for violence.
(q) Any other exigent circumstances.
6. Failing to require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.
Deadly force is authorized only when the officer is protecting him/herself or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat to life.
300.4 DEADLY FORCE APPLICATIONS
Use of deadly force is justified in the following circumstances:
(a) An officer may use deadly force to protect him/herself or others from what he/she reasonably believes would be an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
(b) An officer may use deadly force to stop a fleeing subject when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death, and the officer reasonably believes that there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to any other person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible. Imminent does not mean immediate or instantaneous. An imminent danger may exist even if the suspect is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at someone. For example, an imminent danger may exist if an officer reasonably believes any of the following:
1. The person has a weapon or is attempting to access one and it is reasonable to believe the person intends to use it against the officer or another.
2. The person is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death without a weapon and it is reasonable to believe the person intends to do so
Failing to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using serious force such as shooting, tasing, or pepper spraying someone.
300.4 DEADLY FORCE APPLICATIONS
Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible.
308.3 ISSUING, CARRYING AND USING CONTROL DEVICES
Control devices may be used when a decision has been made to control, restrain or arrest a subject who is violent or who demonstrates the intent to be violent, and the use of the device appears reasonable under the circumstances. When reasonable, a verbal warning and opportunity to comply should precede the use of these devices.
309.4 VERBAL AND VISUAL WARNINGS
A verbal warning of the intended use of the CED should precede its application, unless it would otherwise endanger the safety of officers or when it is not practicable due to the circumstances.
The purpose of the warning is to:
(a) Provide the individual with a reasonable opportunity to voluntarily comply.
(b) Provide other officers and individuals with a warning that the CED may be deployed.
If, after a verbal warning, an individual is unwilling to voluntarily comply with an officer’s lawful orders and it appears both reasonable and feasible under the circumstances, the officer may, but is not required to, display the electrical arc (provided that a cartridge has not been loaded into the device), or the laser in a further attempt to gain compliance prior to the application of the CED. The aiming laser should never be intentionally directed into the eyes of another as it may permanently impair his/her vision.
The fact that a verbal or other warning was given or the reasons it was not given shall be documented by the officer deploying the CED in the related report.
8. Failing to require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force (e.g., pointing a gun at a person).
The use of the firearm is only an actual use of force when fired…we aren’t threatening to shoot, we are challenging the subject to comply.
300.5 REPORTING THE USE OF FORCE
Any use of force by a member of this department shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in an appropriate report, depending on the nature of the incident. The officer should articulate the factors perceived and why he/she believed the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. To collect data for purposes of training, resource allocation, analysis and related purposes, the Department may require the completion of additional report forms, as specified in department policy, procedure or law.