Every officer-use-of-force situation is a volatile and dangerous affair for the officer, the suspect and the community.
Officers have several options of force, from 1) a show of force – several officers; 2) verbal commands – for a subject to stand down or show his hands; 3) physical force – with an ASP baton; 4) use of an electronic control device – Taser; 5) chemical agent – pepper spray; 6) non-lethal weapon, such as bean bag ammunition; or 7) lethal force – a Glock handgun, rifle or shotgun.
For all uses of force there are state guidelines provided by Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), in which the CPD has adapted its standard operating procedure for police response to aggression/resistance.
An officer’s knowledge at start of the job
Upon being hired each officer goes also goes through a psychological assessment to see if that person is suited for law enforcement.
Along with the psychological assessment, the ability to know the department’s aggression guidelines is a must for anyone to become an officer.
“When we bring an officer into the department from Day One they go to the range and they qualify,” CPD Capt. Craig Treadwell said. “Before they do that, they have to cover this policy from top to bottom on use of force, so that they know what is expected of them and how they should perform and when they can and can’t use deadly force.”
Officers are trained on every weapon, lethal or not, at the CPD’s disposal.
On the job, continuation of training
The CPD says its officers go through 114 hours of training a year, in various aspects of the job. Included is how to use force.
Twice a year CPD officers go to the range for qualifications training, where they are put in “real world situations.” Not only are officers trained in how to handle an increase in force, but also prepare to decrease force, at times go from firing shots, to talking a suspect down and switching from pistol, to Taser, to baton and down to commands.
“We’re not just going to stand and shoot at a static target and say you pass qualification,” Treadwell said. “That way you can fire your firearm and then switch to Taser if you have to.”
After a shooting situation
After any use of force, officers use their first aid training to tend to the suspect.
Following the suspect being taken to seek additional medical help, the officer is then debriefed, going over the entire situation. In the case of lethal force a doctor sits down with the officer within a couple of days.
CPD policy puts the officer on paid administrative leave following use of force. While on leave the supervising officer will contact the employee on a daily basis, “and make sure he is doing good and monitor them and make sure there is anything we can do to help them if they are having distress,” Treadwell said.
According to CPD policy the relief from duty serves:
To address the personal and emotional needs of the employee involved in the fatal police response to aggression/resistance.
To assure the community that the incident is being fully and professionally investigated.