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Full question: Use of Force policies provide a roadmap for training. Items not written into the policy may or may not be covered in a training session. Written items provide a template for training. Items not specifically written in the Shake Heights Police Department’s Use of Force Policy are: a statement of the sanctity of life; detailed descriptions of objective reasonableness, necessity, proportionality, and de-escalation; de-escalation techniques; circumstances under which use of force is strictly prohibited; and, duty to intervene when any use of force is unauthorized. Will the Shaker Heights Police Department expand their use of force policy to include the items mentioned above?
Answer: Our Use of Force Policy is called Response to Threats Policy. It is one of a number of policies that we are reviewing during this process. Our review will include items outlined in this question. Once we have completed this review and made any necessary changes, the policy will be posted on our website.
Currently, only police officers are assigned to respond to calls involving residents with mental health issues. All of our officers have had some training in how to respond to these types of calls and are knowledgeable about outside resources they can call on for additional assistance.
Complaints, and the investigations that result from them, are kept in the personnel file for 10 years. If a suspension results from the complaint, it cannot be removed from a personnel file. If the resulting discipline is an oral or written reprimand, an officer can request that this disciplinary action be removed after three years.
Currently, the most significant challenge we are facing is related to recruitment, hiring, and retention practices and policies. The challenges are related to the current context in which police are working and the conversations around police reform. We are faced with an ever-shrinking pool of applicants and have challenges retaining those who are hired. Considerable time is spent refining our policies and practices around recruitment in an effort to meet our goals and overcome these obstacles.
There are indeed circumstances where it is unlawful to run from the police. However, each situation is different and based on the total set of circumstances, rendering it a real challenge if not an impossibility, to contemplate each and every scenario where it would be unlawful to run away from the police.
All complaints are turned over to the Office of Internal Affairs and the investigations surrounding those complaints are kept for 10 years.
During the pandemic, as always, officers will continue to lawfully stop individuals if there is a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that would warrant further investigation by them. “Reasonable and articulable suspicion” is the constitutional guideline that an officer must use when stopping someone to further investigate a situation. It is important to note that there are also citizen-police encounters that are initiated by residents.
Full question: Police are often required to do more than policing. They are asked to be therapists, social workers, psychologists, etc. Why not partner with community agencies that have expertise in these areas to accompany officers on calls or when appropriate to handle the call?
Answer: Our Department frequently interacts with social service agencies during calls for service and subsequent investigations. At the present time, community agencies do not handle calls for service that originated with or involved the calling of the police.
Full question: Has the City considered instituting a civilian oversight component to serve those complainants who are less than comfortable with the notion that that the Department will adequately investigate itself?
Answer: The concept of a civilian oversight board regarding complaints against officers and the Department is one of several proposals being reviewed as part of overall police reform. A review process currently exists when officers are involved in critical incidents that includes citizens as members of the of the reviewing body.
Our General Order 0112 – Bias Free Policing speaks to both of these issues.
Our Racial Profile Statement was originally enacted on March 31, 2003. This statement is annually reviewed by our officers. Equally as important, our officers receive annual training in bias free policing wherein the subject of racial profiling is addressed.
Our Department does not use a discipline matrix. While there are types of officer misconduct where termination will be the discipline, there are likewise circumstances where discipline is progressive in nature with the predominate goal being corrective or curative.
Full question: What specific changes are being made to create a culture of intervention for excessive force or unnecessary detainment within the department; providing assurance and safety to those officers who choose to intervene. How is this clearly documented?
Answer: All hires are instructed/trained in these areas in new officer orientation during their Ethics Component which is specifically taught by the Chief of Police. It is also focus throughout their field training program with a senior officer. These expectations are then reinforced through annual review of the Bias Free Policing policy which includes our Racial Profile Statement and a requirement of a duty to intervene.
The principles of riot and crowd control prioritize the protection of people and then prioritize the protection of private homes and businesses.
The use of the LVNR (Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint) is presently being reviewed by our Department. As a practical matter, pending review, our Department has not trained officers in LVNR for several years and as a result have only approximately 3 officers currently employed with the Department who possess such training.
At the present time, we do not have any residency requirements.
The policy is labeled Response to Threats and is presently on our website.
Prior to appointment, all officer candidates go through extensive psychological testing.
All applicants must be at least 21 years of age at the time of appointment.
Full question: Are you reviewing the policy of having officers placed in our school buildings? Please address your perspective on why it is deemed necessary or constructive, given the message it sends to students about school climate?
Answer: Having police officers working in the school buildings is a decision made by the school system, not the police department. With that said, officers inside of the school buildings have found wonderful opportunities for relationship building between students and officers.
Full question: Besides unofficial friendship building, what is the department doing in terms of systematic relationship strengthening with (especially marginalized) Shaker community members. Mainly, does the department have awareness of or plan to institute restorative justice practices into the department/local criminal justice system?
Answer: Our department has participated in restorative justice exercises in collaboration with the high school and exercises authorized by the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in lieu of prosecution. The City’s website lists some of our community engagement activities which documents some of how we participate in community relationship building.