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Use of Force Q&A

  • Does your Use of Force Policy allow for chokeholds and strangleholds?
    • “Chokeholds” and “strangleholds” are, by their very definition, designed to restrict airflow. These types of holds have never been allowed in our use of force policy.
    • We do allow officers, if they have been trained and only in specific situations, to utilize a carotid control hold. This is substantially different from a choke hold in that it does NOT restrict airflow. (MPD Policy 300.3.4)
  • Does your Use of Force Police require de-escalation?
    • Our policy requires all of our officers receive de-escalation training (MPD Policy 203.4). It further required that our officers complete the required training requirements under the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act. This measure required law enforcement officers statewide receive an additional 40 hours of training every three years with an emphasis on de-escalation and mental health training. It also established the standards for independent investigations of deadly force. The foundation of our policing culture is based upon minimizing force whenever possible and practical.
  • Does your Use of Force Policy require a warning before shooting?
    • Use of a firearm is considered deadly force. We have a policy that addresses all deadly force applications (MPD Policy 300.4). Our training standards and procedures are such that a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force where feasible.
  • Does your Use of Force Policy require officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting?
    • Our entire Use of Force policy is based upon the standards that any use of force by an officer must be reasonable and necessary. As defined in MPD Policy 300.3, the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury. And when force is applied, the standard we utilize is “no reasonably effective alternative to the use of force appeared to exist and the amount of force used was reasonable to effective the lawful purpose intended.”
  • Does your Use of Force Policy ban shooting at moving vehicles?
    • While there is no outright ban on shooting at vehicles, we have a clear policy regarding shooting both at or from a moving vehicle. MPD Policy 300.4.1 outlines, “Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others. Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.”
  • Does your Use of Force Policy include a duty to intervene provision?
    • MPD Policy 300.2.1 states, “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.”
  • Does your Use of Force Policy require a “use of force” continuum
    • The specific term “use of force continuum” refers to an outdated use of force model developed four decades ago. We employ a policy that is grounded in the fundamental concepts of de-escalation and reasonableness. If force is necessary, then the officer uses only that amount of force that is reasonable given the facts and circumstances at the time of the event – and only for a legitimate law enforcement purpose (MPD Policy 300.3).  This is inline with current best practices in the policing profession and follows guidelines set by court precedent.
  • Does your policy require comprehensive reporting?
    • MPD Policy 300.5 clearly outlines the protocol and procedures for reporting the use of force by a member of this police department. Any use of force by a member of this police department shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in an appropriate report, depending on the nature of the incident. Higher levels of force are further reviewed by a Use of Force review process, and if necessary, an investigation through a formal internal investigation. In certain cases where lethal force is utilized, we can request the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team (SMART) to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.