E-Newsletter Edition: June 13, 2007
Always note that state law may be more restrictive on police power than the U.S. Constitution.
As a defensive tactics instructor, I am always trying to stay updated on information as much as possible. As I am rewriting my departments Use of Force policy, the area of concern I have is with the Use of Force report. I was wondering what your thoughts were on the need for the report, and what you would consider to be the key elements in developing this form. As I have been directed to create the report, I would appreciate any incite on the content of this matter. Thank you.
The best place to start is with the Department of Justice Consent Decrees/Memorandums/letters of recommendation. As I’m sure you know, the United States DOJ has investigated a number of police agencies over the last 15 years or so and in some cases, virtually took the agencies over. In each of their most recent cases, see Beacon New York and Warren Ohio, the DOJ has indicated that the agencies must put systems in place for use of force reporting and review. Additionally, the IACP has had model policy on this for years. The biggest reason is that the failure to properly document use of force has been used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to establish that an agency is acting inconsistently with the generally accepted practice of having use of force reporting and review and therefore are deliberately indifferent to use of force. It is important to recognize that when agencies collect this data, it is always beneficial to the agency- nationally agencies use force in ½ of 1 % to 3% of all contacts with individuals. Most agencies find themselves within this number. There are a number of good reports out there. The best forms document the subject’s actions which caused the officer to respond with a control tactic. The emphasis should be on the seriousness of the offense the officer suspected at the time the force was used, the physical threat the subject created and finally it should identify how the subject actively resisted the officer or attempted to evade arrest by flight. Finally, the report should capture each level of force the officer used. Medical information concerning injuries to the subject and the officer should also be documented.