IMPD announces new use-of-force policies following protests over police brutality, racial injustice

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced the adoption of updated use-of-force policies on Wednesday morning.

The changes are designed to limit to number of times officers use lethal force.

With our cameras rolling less than two months ago, IMPD officers subdued and arrested two women for violating a city wide curfew. That incident led to complaints that the officers used excessive force.

At the same time, nationwide protests of racial injustice spurred IMPD to officially update their use of force policy.

Some of the changes in the policy are new, while others had already been incorporated into the department’s training program for years, but are now being spelled out in black and white.

“I think what you see in our policy is we are codifying things in our policy that we have been training to for several years,” said IMPD deputy chief Kendale Adams.

In June 2017, IMPD officers shot and killed an unarmed man. The death of Aaron Bailey sparked changes in IMPD training and classes were held to instruct officers on how to diffuse trouble with words instead of force.

IMPD training has included de-escalation techniques for years, yet the new policy clearly outlines de-escalation tactics.

The policies explicitly prohibit chokeholds, warning shots, and shooting at or from moving vehicles or occupants.

“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,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor.

“For the last several years, we have worked to improve training and policies for IMPD officers,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “From implicit bias and de-escalation training, to the proposed Use of Force Review Board, to these updates to IMPD use of force policies – these changes aim to ensure IMPD better serves every member of the Indianapolis community.”

IMPD says they worked with Faith in Indiana and other community and advocacy groups to create the updated use-of-force polices.

Uses of any level of force will continue to be reported and investigated according to existing IMPD policy. Once established, the forthcoming Use of Force Review Board will have the authority to review any use of force by an IMPD officer.

IMPD is currently working to redevelop the training curriculum in line with this new policy and will begin the process of training all officers to these new directives as soon as next month.

Here is a rundown of IMPD’s new policies:

  1. Outline clearly defined de-escalation requirements: The new policy explicitly outlines the use of de-escalation tactics such as communication, time, and distance and requires that officers attempt to de-escalate situations with the goal of resolving encounters without the use of force whenever feasible. IMPD training has included de-escalation techniques for some time, but the department’s commitment to de-escalation is now made explicit in the use of force policy itself.
  2. Create a clear standard for use of deadly force: IMPD has adopted the standard for deadly force outlined by California Assembly Bill 392, which provides greater clarification and limitations on when deadly force may be used.
  3. Prohibit the use of chokeholds: While IMPD training does not consider chokeholds an appropriate technique, the approved Use of Force policy explicitly prohibits this tactic or any similar neck restraint.
  4. Require the use of proportionate force: Officers must use only the minimum amount of force appropriate, based on the circumstances known to the officer, to achieve the officer’s legitimate public safety objectives.
  5. Define an officer’s duty to intervene and report when inappropriate force is used: Officers now have an explicit duty to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer and report any violation of the Use of Force policy to a supervisor. This was not previously outlined in IMPD’s Use of Force policy.
  6. Clearly specify rules for using less-lethal force: The new use of force standards are outlined in two policies – one that governs the use of specific types of less-lethal devices, and one that covers IMPD’s general use of force principles. The rules for deployment of less-lethal levels of force are consistent with continuum of force and proportionality principles.
  7. Prohibit shooting into, or from, moving vehicles.
  8. Direct the department to review these policies for compliance with national best practices at least annually.

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