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Mayor Sarno Signs Onto President Obama’s Pledge to Review Use of Force Policies

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno has signed on to President Barack Obama’s pledge to review the Springfield Police Department's Use of Force policies.  

Prior to President Obama’s call for communities to commit to action, Mayor Sarno had directed Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood to review and update the Springfield Police Department's use of force policies, which will now include the implementation of police body-worn cameras.

Mayor Sarno stated, “Police tactics, strategies and technology are always changing and as such, we must routinely review and update our policing policies.  With the implementation of body-worn cameras, I had directed Police Commissioner Clapprood to review and update our policing policies to reflect the utilization of this new technology for police accountability and public safety.  I am also happy to report that many of the calls for action stated in President Obama’s pledge to review police use of force policies, our Springfield Police Department are already doing.”

The eight policies of police use of force, which are being asked to be reviewed by the pledge include:

  • Require officers to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force 
  • Use a force continuum or matrix that define/limit the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance
  • Restrict chokeholds and strangleholds to situations where deadly force is authorized or prohibiting them altogether
  • Require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using deadly force
  • Prohibit officers from shooting at people in moving vehicles unless the person poses a deadly threat by means other than the vehicle
  • Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to using deadly force
  • Require officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force
  • Require comprehensive reporting that includes both uses of force and threats of force

The City of Springfield’s Police Department has identified and addressed these calls to review the use of force with the following:

  • Officers currently undergo de-escalation training and upon any incident which is reviewed by the Commissioner and/or the Civilian Community Police Hearing Board, made of a diverse group of Springfield residents, additional or retraining on de-escalation is provided
  • Springfield Police Department currently utilizes and trains officers with a use of force continuum identifying when and what use of force can be utilized in certain situations.  These include the use of non-lethal means such as Tasers when certain aspects of resistance is encountered.  The introduction of Tasers in 2015 has resulted in a dramatic decrease in officers having to go "hands on". Often a verbal warning or display of a TASER de-escalates a situation and gains compliance without having to deploy the unit or utilize any force. While there is no way to accurately measure this, it has undoubtedly led to a sharp reduction of injuries to officers and suspects
  • The Springfield Police Department does not train or utilize physical restraints such as chokeholds or strangleholds that could restrict air or blood flow.  Officers receive training to avoid putting body-weight on areas of a subject such as the head, neck, throat and spine
  • Within reason and when possible, officers are trained to continue dialog and to try to de-escalate a situation and use non-lethal means before a situation becomes volatile where deadly force might be necessary
  • Within reason and when possible, officers are trained to avoid the use of deadly force, which includes shooting at a moving vehicle, unless there is an immediate threat to the officers life or the lives of others
  • Officers are trained to exhaust all measures and alternatives at their disposal to defuse a situation before resorting to using deadly force
  • As part of the Springfield Police Departments training program, officers are provided with a thorough educational model of police training.  This includes a series on police EPIC (Ethical Policing is Courageous) training to hold themselves and their fellow officers accountable for their actions, professionalism and integrity
  • The Springfield Police Department has recently implemented and will be utilizing body-worn cameras for all officers.  This initiative will go a long way in tracking, reviewing and reporting all encounters between officers and members of the community for both the safety of our citizens and police accountability

“As I have said before, I am not perfect nor is our Police Department, but I want to reassure our residents and business community that public safety, for all individuals, has been and will remain a top priority within my administration.  Our SPD was the first in the state to implement the EPIC training program that puts an emphasis on de-escalation training, minimizing the need to use force and focus on communication skills.  We have made tremendous strides through our Civilian Community Police Hearing Board, C3 Community Policing and our Quality of Life Ordinance / Flex Squad, but there’s always more work to be done,” Mayor Sarno added.  “I accept President Obama’s pledge and look forward to continuing to work together with Police Commissioner Clapprood, our brave and dedicated men and women in blue, and all of our residents to continue to move our Springfield forward, for the better for everyone.”  

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Page last updated:  Wednesday, November 25, 2020 02:26 pm