Over the last week, I've received hundreds of emails from community members on a number of topics. There were a number of common themes and questions, and I will try to address some of those through my blog so all can share the response.
One common theme in many emails is about the "8 can't wait" campaign, which is a series of use-of-force policies/principles recommended to improve outcomes and community safety. Many have asked how MPD views these eight principles. Our policy, training and philosophy are in alignment with these recommendations. They are described below:
Eight Can't Wait
Ban Chokeholds & Strangleholds – MPD does not, nor has it ever, trained officers in chokeholds, strangleholds or any other similar techniques. MPD policy specifically prohibits use of these techniques unless deadly force is justified.
Require De-Escalation – MPD has implemented a policy on de-escalation that requires the use of de-escalation techniques (such as time, distance, communication, etc.) when feasible. All officers were trained in de-escalation when the policy was implemented. New officers are trained in de-escalation and the principle is incorporated into many aspects of officer training (professional communication, tactical response, etc.).
Require Warning Before Shooting – MPD policy requires that "Before using deadly force, officers shall, if reasonably possible, identify themselves and order the subject to desist from unlawful activity." This requirement is reinforced in officer training.
Require Exhausting all Alternatives Before Shooting – MPD policy clearly states that deadly force is "a measure of last resort, only to be employed when an officer reasonably believes all other options have been exhausted or would be ineffective." This principle is emphasized in officer training.
Duty to Intervene – MPD policy and Code of Conduct states, "Any officer present and observing another officer using excessive force, or engaged in unlawful conduct, or in violation of the Madison Police Department's Code of Conduct has an affirmative obligation to intercede and report."
Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles – MPD policy states that shooting at a moving vehicles is never authorized unless: a person in the vehicle is threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle; or the vehicle is being operated in a manner that reasonably appears deliberately intended to strike an officer or other person, and all other reasonable means of defense have been exhausted (or are not present or practical).
Require Comprehensive Reporting – MPD policy requires that any officer who uses physical force, weapons, items, or devices against a person shall complete an original or supplemental report on the incident. This includes pointing a firearm at an individual. Additionally, officers who use "recordable" force must contact a supervisor to review the use of force and enter information about the incident into an internal database. Each use of recordable force is reviewed by the MPD Use of Force Coordinator, and certain levels of force require an initial on-scene supervisory response/review.
Require Use of Force Continuum – The "8cantwait" initiative defines this as restricting "the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations" and "creating clear policy restrictions on the use of each police weapon and tactic." MPD policy and training are consistent with this. Deadly force is clearly restricted to extreme situations, and the use of specific tools/techniques is specifically restricted in policy. MPD officers are trained in a manner consistent with the State of Wisconsin's Defensive and Arrest Tactics (DAAT) curriculum (as required by the State). The DAAT system incorporates an intervention options matrix, with restrictions on specific techniques.
The full standard operating procedures addressing these subjects are available on the MPD website:
MPD is committed to continuous improvement, and to ensuring that our use of force policies and training reflect national best practices. We will continue to review recommendations and principles expressed nationally (by the Police Executive Research Foundation, for example) and locally (by the Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee), and identify areas for enhancing MPD policy and training.
In future blogs I'll respond to some other common themes/questions raised in recent days.