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IMPD updates use-of-force policies

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Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced new use-of-force policies July 29.

The department says the new policies place on emphasis on de-escalation, using proportionate force and limiting the use of letal and less-lethal force.

The documents with updates for use of force and use of less-lethal force are at the bottom of the page. Highlights include:

• Officers should attempt to de-escalate situations with the goal of resolving issues without the use of force “when possible.” Officers should use communication, among other techniques, to “slow encounters” and try to get voluntary compliance.

“Officers must also never knowingly or intentionally escalate a situation in violation of this section,” the policy reads.

• Officers should “only use force that is objectively reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances.” In order to judge reasonableness, officers should consider the severity of the crime(s), the immediate threat a person poses and the effects of drugs and alcohol, among other things.

The policy defines proportionate force as “the minimum amount of force that is required, based on the circumstances known to the officer, to achieve the officer’s legitimate law enforcement objectives.”

• Deadly force is prohibited except for when an officer reasonably believes there is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person, or to apprehend a person fleeing a felony that “threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury, if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended.”

The policy also prohibits chokeholds and other methods that restrict breathing or circulation.

Officers are also not allowed to shoot at or from moving vehicles.

• Officers should only use force to protect themselves or a third person, make an arrest and prevent property damage or loss, among other situations, the policy reads.

• If an officer uses force, the policy states the officer should evaluate the person for injuries, request Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as needed or requested, and give appropriate aid.

• Officers should stop and report any use of force that violates applicable laws or department policies.

• Officers who have electronic control devices (ECD) such as stun guns should give verbal warning, “when feasible,” before using it.

“The act of fleeing, without other factors involved, does not justify the use of an ECD,” the policy reads.

• Officers should give a verbal warning, “when feasible,” before using a chemical spray. Officers should not use a chemical spray on someone who is in “passive resistance only,” the policy says.

• Each strike with an impact weapon (such as a baton or club) is considered a separate use of force that requires justification. Officers should not strike a person’s head, neck, throat, spine, sternum, kidneys or groin unless deadly force is authorized.

The department must review these policies for compliance with national best practices at least annually.

“The adoption of these new use of force standards is a substantial milestone, one that I hope demonstrates our commitment to building community trust and developing stronger neighborhood partnerships to address violent crime,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said in a statement.

The updates came nearly two months after the department announced it would look at use-of-force policies.

IMPD will begin training officers on the new directives as early as next month.

Click here if you can’t see the use-of-force policies and here for less-lethal force policies.

Protesters were met with resistance from IMPD May 29. Officers deployed pepper spray after an officer was hit with water. (Photo/Breanna Cooper)

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