Use of Force Policy
Title: Use of Force – Necessary Force
Standards: 20.1, 20.4, 20.5, 20.7, 21.1, 21.2,
General Order 91 – 008 (Use of Force Policy) Effective: 04/19/1991
General Order 93 – 003 (Firearms Incident Report) Effective: 02/08/1993
General Order 11-007 (New Weapons) Effective: 02/03/2011
General Order 91 – 008 (Use of Force Policy)
The use of force, especially deadly force, by police officers is a serious matter which has far reaching consequences for both the officers involved, and the citizens who are the object of such force. It is, therefore, imperative that all members of the Department be guided by law, morality, good judgement, and accepted practice. The purpose of this policy statement, and directive, shall be to provide the officer with a basis for such guidance.
1. The primary responsibility of the Department, and of each of its members, is to protect the lives of the citizens we serve. It is critical, therefore, that every action of this Department, and each of its members, be consistent with that responsibility. It is also the responsibility of each member of this Department to honor the established principles of democracy. These include a reverence for human life, the principle that the value of any human life exceeds that of any property, and the principle that it is the function of the Judiciary to punish wrongdoers.
2. This policy is not intended to create confusion in the mind of an officer at a critical moment. It provides basic guidelines so that the officers may be confident in exercising judgement as to the use of force.
II. POLICY and PROCEDURES:
Use of Force General:
Members of the Rockville Centre Police Department are authorized to use only the minimum amount of force appropriate to a given situation. Force SHALL NOT be used aggressively, but shall be used responsively. This means that a member of this Department will not create a need for the force, but will only react to a need created by a citizen. Force shall not be used, in any degree, without legal justification. Members of the Department will use only the minimal amount of force that is reasonably necessary to perform their lawful duties.
The use of force usually progresses through several stages or degrees: Verbal Direction; Physical Direction; Chemical Weapon; Impact Weapons (to include the use of a TASER device, where appropriate under the circumstances), and Firearm. When following this natural progression of force, it is understood that, due to circumstances, it may be necessary to skip steps. If this is done, one must be able to explain why. As a situation changes, the needed level of force may also change, therefore, you must expect to move up and down the scale. Whenever possible, the opportunity to comply (by the subject) should be given before escalating to the next level in the progression. Once compliance is achieved, escalation should cease. By consciously following the progression of force, officers minimize liability, maintain better control over a situation, and enhance the image of the individual officer, as well as the Department, when called upon to explain actions taken.
Note: see Continuum of Force / Progression of Force chart on page # 14.
Use of Deadly Force:
1. Definition – “Deadly Physical Force” is physical force which, under the circumstances under which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.
2. The following guideline will be observed by members of this Department:
Deadly force SHALL ONLY be used in defending one’s self, or another person, from an attack, or an imminent attack, of deadly force, in which an officer fears death or serious physical injury to himself/herself or another person, and there are no other alternatives immediately available, and the use of such force does not create an excessive risk of serious injury, or death, to an innocent person(s).
Commentary – An officer is allowed to use the amount of force reasonably (as he/she subjectively understands it) believed to be necessary to protect himself/herself, or another person, from the immediate use of deadly physical force. The key here is the “reasonable belief” by the officer that:
a) He/she, or another person, is under immediate attack, and he/she must use deadly force in order to prevent anticipated harm from deadly force to be immediately used against him/her or another, and;
b) He/she uses the force that he/she reasonably believes necessary to repel the attack.
In order to use deadly force, the officer need not wait to be shot or stabbed. The threat of violence from an attack of deadly force must, however, be immediate and real based on the officer’s reasonable belief. The Department does not expect an individual officer to unreasonably, or unnecessarily, endanger himself/herself in order to conform to this policy.
3. All personnel are reminded that the baton and slapper (“impact weapons”), depending on how they are used, may constitute deadly force. Careful judgment, and discretion, must be exercised by an officer to avoid the use of these weapons in situations where such use may not be justified by the circumstances.
4. The Department acknowledges that extraordinary circumstances may compel deviation from the letter of this policy. Such situations will be judged on the reasonableness of an officer’s actions based on that specific set of circumstances.
Training and Qualifications (Use of Firearms):
1. Deadly Weapons
a) While on and off-duty, police officers shall carry only firearms and ammunition authorized by, and registered with, the Department.
b) Authorized weapons are those with which the police officer has qualified and received Department training on proper and safe usage, and that comply with departmental specifications. AT NO TIME will any member of this Department carry, while on or off-duty, any firearm unless he/she has been qualified to use same by a certified firearms instructor approved by this Department.
-> A .45 caliber ACP semiautomatic, model 21SF, RTF2, manufactured by Glock, fully loaded with Department approved ammunition, is the authorized on duty weapon for this Police Department.
-> A .45 caliber ACP semiautomatic, model 30SF manufactured by Glock, and fully loaded with Department ammunition, may be carried while off duty. Such a firearm may also be carried by personnel of the rank of Lieutenant and above, Detectives, Plainclothes personnel, or those members assigned to Headquarters while on duty.
-> Ammunition: The authorized ammunition for the above two weapons is Winchester Ranger “T” series .45 ACP + P, 230 grain (part # RA45TP). Members will carry 39 rounds of ammunition while assigned to patrol (thirteen in weapon and two magazines of 13). Members will not “top off” the magazine inserted into any weapon.
-> The Commissioner of Police may authorize other firearms to be carried by special unit personnel, provided the member(s) has been qualified to use such weapon(s) by a certified firearms instructor approved by this Department, and documentation of such qualification is on file in the Office of the Police Commissioner.
c.) The Department shall schedule regular training and qualification sessions for duty, off-duty, and specialized weapons, and shall participate in the firearms training programs authorized by the Commissioner. All members of the Department must achieve a minimum qualifying score for the handgun segment, as well as (for appropriate personnel) special weapons (Bushmaster XM15 5.56 mm Assault Rifle) segments.
d.) Police Officers who fail to receive a passing score with their duty weapon(s), in accordance with Department testing procedures, shall be immediately relieved of their law enforcement duties.
e.) A police officer shall not be permitted to carry any weapon(s) with which he has not been able to qualify with during the most recent qualification period.
f.) A police officer who has taken extended leave, or suffered an illness or injury that could affect his ability to use a firearm, will be required to re-qualify before returning to enforcement duty.
g.) Note that the use of the Assault Rifle constitutes deadly physical force and is therefore subject to the laws and guidelines governing the use of deadly physical force.
1. Members are reminded that they are not permitted to use the assault rifle unless they have been properly qualified by a certified firearms instructor approved by the Department.
2. The assault rifle may be taken from a police vehicle, in most cases, where a violent felony is in progress or when it has already been determined that firearms are involved.
3. The assault rifle shall not be taken on calls of family disturbances, fights, or incidents of less than a violent felony in progress, where there is no prior, or current, indication of firearms being involved, or situations involving concentrated groups of people, i.e., a report of armed robbery in a bank, or other similar situations which would make the use of the weapon inappropriate.
Note: See also Manual index under “Patrol Rifles”.
1. Warning shots are prohibited; they shall not be fired at any time.
2. Police Officers shall not fire their weapons at a moving vehicle, or from a moving vehicle, unless such action is the only possible way to prevent serious injury, or death, to the officer himself or another person.
3. Except for maintenance, or during training, police officers shall not draw, or exhibit, their firearms unless circumstances create a reasonable belief that it may be necessary to use the weapon in conformance with this policy. If the officer’s weapon is a revolver, then at no time shall the firearm be cocked unless the intent is to fire for effect. At all times that a firearm is drawn, it shall be handled in a safe manner. A firearm shall not be used as a bludgeon,, unless the circumstances warrant such.
4. Members shall not fire upon a suspect holding an innocent person hostage. The appropriate special unit (Hostage Negotiations, Emergency Services, BSO) should be requested from the Nassau County Police Department.
5. Members shall not surrender their firearms (unless as a last resort, and only after using every tactical tool at their disposal). Surrender of a firearm rarely de-escalates a situation and can, in fact, place an officer, or other innocent persons, in severe jeopardy.
6. Whenever a member discharges a firearm, whether on or off duty, except for Department approved training or competition, he shall prepare a report of the incident, indicating the necessity for the discharge of the weapon, and will submit same to his immediate supervisor, who will review the report, indicate on same (or by separate attachment) his concurrence, or non-concurrence, with the decision to discharge the firearm, and forward the report, through normal channels, to the Commissioner of Police.
General Order 93 – 003(Firearms Incident Report) Whenever a member of the Department becomes involved in an incident which involves the “DISCHARGE OF A FIREARM”, the member will cause to be completed a “FIREARMS INCIDENT REPORT”. The report is to be completed as soon as possible after the incident, and forwarded through official channels to the Commissioner of Police.
The Administrative Unit of the Police Department will retain the original form for file, and will copy the Nassau Police Department Firearms Unit. (Firearms Incident Report forms are maintained at the Service Desk)
———– (End General Order 93 – 003) ———-
Note: See also page (12) of this document regarding procedures for the handling of an “Officer Involved Shooting”.
7. With specific regard to off-duty firearms:
A. The Department provides for the off-duty carrying of firearms by Police Officers. Police Officers may carry an approved, properly registered firearm while off-duty, however, officers shall not carry a firearm while off duty when their ability to use same wisely, safely, and efficiently:
1. is, or may become, impaired by alcohol consumption and/or ingestion of other substances, or 2. is, or may become, impaired by ingestion of lawfully prescribed medication, or 3. is impaired due to illness, injury, stress, fatigue, mental or physical disability, or 4. is impaired for any other reason.
B. Off-duty firearms shall not be carried if they cannot be properly secured.
C. Nothing in this section should be construed as diminishing an officer’s responsibility to act when observing a crime in progress, however, when off-duty and unarmed, an officer’s actions should consist of calling “911”, obtaining descriptions of perpetrators, or other activities which do not involve the direct confrontation of potentially dangerous persons.
Note: See also Manual index under “Animals” for further information in regard to handling animal situations.
1. Before destroying an animal, every effort should be made to have the appropriate agency retrieve it.
2. Police Officers may destroy an animal that represents an imminent threat to public safety. Also, if no agency is available or willing to respond, and the owner of the animal cannot be located, police officers may also destroy an animal as a humanitarian measure when the animal is seriously injured, unless the animal belongs to a class of endangered species, or is of great monetary value. Regardless of the circumstances, destruction of animals shall only take place with the approval of a supervisory officer. Appropriate blotter entries shall also be made.
NOTE: The general intent of this section is to provide for the humane destruction of animals, such as dogs and cats, when circumstances are proper, however, for high value animals (to include, but not limited to, horses), humane destruction is not authorized without the approval of the animal owner, veterinarian, or other competent authority.
3. Should it become necessary to destroy an animal by gunshot, a single shot, angled downward on a soft surface, through the head toward the body, should be sufficient. If rabies is suspected, the head should be preserved, and a shot to the body utilized. In these instances, precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of the public. The animal should be placed on soft ground, rather than the pavement, to minimize the possibility of ricochet. If possible, destruction should also take place out of public view, particularly out of view of the owner(s). Proper notification should be made for the removal of all dead animal carcasses.
Use of Non-Deadly Force:
1. DEFINITION – “Non-deadly Physical Force” – is any use of force other than that which is considered deadly force.
2. The following guideline will be observed by members of this Department:
NON-DEADLY FORCE SHALL ONLY BE USED IN DEFENDING ONE’S SELF, OR ANOTHER, FROM PHYSICAL HARM; OR TO RESTRAIN OR SUBDUE A RESISTENT INDIVIDUAL; OR TO BRING AN UNLAWFUL SITUATION SAFELY, AND EFFECTIVELY, UNDER CONTROL.
3. The use of the chemical weapon Oleo Capsicum (aka O/C Pepper Spray):
Note: See also Manual index under “OC PEPPER SPRAY”.
A. The situation frequently arises in which the use of extreme force is not justifiable, yet something more than manual restraint is required to subdue a subject. The non-lethal chemical weapon O/C Pepper Spray has proven effective in these situations.
Use of O/C Pepper spray:
1. O/C Pepper Spray takes effect in one or two seconds.
2. It has an effective range of about fifteen feet.
3. It will render MOST subjects harmless.
4. Careless use of O/C Pepper spray will cause it to affect uninvolved persons, to include police officers.
5. Effects of the spray may be experienced by persons in close proximity to the sprayed person.
6. Avoid spraying O/C Pepper spray into the wind.
7. Chemical weapons shall not be carried, or used, while off-duty.
8. Every instance of the use of a chemical weapon must be reported, in writing, to the Police Commissioner, and included in the report will be the name of the person sprayed, along with his/her reaction to the chemical.
4. Use of Specialized Restraining Device – TASER (see Manual index under “TASER”.
Training and Qualifications:
1. Police officers are not permitted to use a non-deadly weapon unless qualified in its proficient use as determined by training procedures.
2. Officers shall carry only the non-deadly weapons authorized by the Department.
Summary of use of Force and Firearms:
1. Force used must:
a) Not be excessive.
b) Be reasonably necessary.
c) Be legally justified.
d) Be responsive, not aggressive.
2. Deadly force must:
a) Be used as a last resort in self defense, or defense of another person.
b) Be legally justified.
c) Not be used recklessly or negligently.
a) Must be authorized, and loaded with authorized ammunition.
b) Must be handled with extreme caution at all times.
c) Shall not be carried unless the user is properly qualified with said firearm.
Investigation of Incidents:
Whenever force is used that results in a physical injury to any person, the incident will be investigated as outlined herein. Whenever force of a lesser degree is used (come-along holds, use of mace, use of a baton with no apparent injury, etc.) members will thoroughly document their actions in their reports (Case Report, Uniform Activity Report, etc.).
1. Investigation Procedure:
Whenever an incident occurs involving the use of force by a member of this Department which requires investigation pursuant to this policy, the Duty Officer will be notified immediately.
a) Command at Scene – the officer assigned the original call is in command until properly relieved by a supervisory officer.
b) The Duty Officer will assign a supervisor to take charge of the scene and investigate the incident. Depending on the severity of the incident, the Duty Officer may conduct the investigation of the incident.
c) Initial Action:
The investigating officer will be responsible for control of the scene.
The investigating officer will identify all personnel involved in the incident.
The investigating officer will make recommendations to the Duty Officer concerning the status of any arrests, and the need for further investigation. d) Information and Evidence Required:
Witnesses, if any.
Color photos of injuries to any persons (including officers) taken prior to treatment, if possible.
Any other information, or evidence, available and required for proper investigation.
e) Investigating Officer will promptly prepare a written report to the Commissioner of Police that will fully document the incident, and will maintain personal notes of the incident, as required. The following guidelines will apply:
Summary of the nature of the incident where force was used, including date and time, location, and case number.
Name, rank, and squad of all members at the scene.
Name, addresses, telephone numbers, and statements of any, and all, witnesses.
The circumstances that led to the use of force.
The exact nature of the force used by each officer involved.
Describe the injuries to all persons involved (including officers). Include photos and description of medical treatment received, including the name of the treating facility, doctor’s name, and a copy of treatment slip (medical lines).
Include copies of all reports pertaining to the incident.
Description of any direct action taken by the investigator of the incident.
Include personal conclusions and recommendations, along with any information, and/or evidence, not specifically mentioned above, which is deemed pertinent to the investigation.
Special Procedures for Serious Incidents:
The very nature of police work periodically exposes police personnel to extremely stressful, or trauma-inducing, events. Research has shown that fatal, or near-fatal, confrontations, cases involving the abuse or death of a child, multi-casualty accidents, etc., are particularly stressful for the involved member. In recognition of the detrimental impact on the personal lives, and job performance, of our members, this Department is taking steps to provide help, understanding, and support for those who have been placed in these situations. Accordingly, this policy is formulated to aid those members who find themselves in such circumstances as a result of performing their duties as members of this Department.
1. The senior ranking officer working will immediately notify the Commissioner of Police, or his designee (Duty Officer).
2. The officers directly involved in such incidents will be relieved by their patrol supervisor, and transported to Headquarters as soon as practical.
3. The senior ranking officer in command should notify the Department designated counselor.
4. The senior ranking officer in command will notify the P.B.A. President, or his designee.
5. Following a shooting incident, the officer(s) weapon(s) will be taken by the patrol supervisor, or senior ranking supervisor in command, and the officer(s) will be provided with a replacement weapon.
6. The officer(s) will be afforded a period of privacy and the companionship of a supportive peer, and the Department designated counselor, in order to stabilized his/her emotional state.
7. The officer(s) involved will, unless extraordinary circumstances exist, submit a written report of the incident to the Police Commissioner prior to completion of their tour of duty.
8. The officer(s) involved will be afforded the opportunity to speak with a P.B.A. representative before submitting any written reports of the incident.
9. The officer(s) involved may be administratively excused from duty following such incident. The duration of such leave is at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police based on the circumstances of the incident.
10. The officer(s) involved may be directed (at the discretion of the Police Commissioner) to receive post-traumatic stress counseling before returning to duty.
11. Any other officer(s) directly involved in such incident who either voluntarily, or on the recommendation of a supervisor or the P.B.A. President (or his designee), wish to avail themselves of the above services, may do so.
THIS DIRECTIVE IS FOR DEPARTMENTAL USE ONLY AND DOES NOT APPLY TO ANY CRIMINAL OR CIVIL PROCEEDING. THE DEPARTMENT POLICY SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS A CREATION OF HIGHER LEGAL STANDARD OF SAFETY, OR CARE, IN AN EVIDENTARY SENSE WITH RESPECT TO THIRD PARTY CLAIMS. VIOLATIONS OF THIS DIRECTIVE WILL ONLY FORM THE BASIS FOR DEPARTMENTAL ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS.
———- (End General Order 91 – 008) ———–
Officer Involved Shooting Procedures:
1. The ranking tour supervisor shall respond and assume command of the scene, and if there is more than one supervisor available to respond, one shall assume the responsibility of “Primary Care” for the member(s) involved.
a) Primary Care: shall involve ensuring that the member(s) receives medical treatment, peer support, explanations of the procedures to be conducted, and securing of the weapon(s) of the member(s) involved.
Note: if the incident occurs outside the Department’s jurisdiction, the Tour Supervisor, or Shift Commander, shall respond to initiate Firearms Incident Reporting, and shall assume the responsibility for “Primary Care” of the member(s) involved, until relieved of primary care duties by another supervisor at the scene.
b) An occurrence within the Command will require one supervisor, or the “Shift Commander”, to oversee the crime scene investigation, prepare the Firearms Incident Report, and complete an after action report. A second supervisor shall be assigned to “Primary Care” for the member(s) involved. A third supervisor shall be assigned to assume command of the
2. The responding supervisor shall ensure that a crime scene is established, and that crime scene procedures are initiated. See Manual index under “Crime Scene Duties”.
3. The supervisor commanding the scene shall ensure that a notification is made to the Duty Officer, and that a concise report of the preliminary event details are provided to the Duty Officer at the time the notification is made.
Note: the “Duty Officer”, or the “Shift Commander” if available, shall authorize calling a second supervisor to either take over the regular tour responsibilities, or to assume “Primary Care” responsibilities, as the situation dictates.
4. Until the arrival on scene of a supervisor to assume full responsibility for the “Primary Care” of the member(s) involved, a police officer shall be assigned, manpower permitting, as a “buddy” to assist the member(s) involved. This “buddy” officer is to be relieved of other duties, or responsibilities, so that he may devote himself to the task of providing for peer assistance to the involved member(s).
5. The supervisor commanding the scene shall ensure that a notification is made to the NCPD First Squad detectives.
6. A supervisor shall ensure that notification is made to the PBA President, or his Vice President.
7. The officer involved in the shooting will be relieved of any additional duties for the remainder of the tour and will consult with the “Duty Officer”, “Administrative Officer”, or “Commanding Officer” prior to his return to full duty. If it the incident occurs on a weekend, the ranking supervisor will make the necessary notifications the next day as to the officer’s return to duty.
Note: See also “Special Procedures for Serious Incidents”, pages 10 & 11 of this document.
CHART – “CONTINUUM OF FORCE” follows on next page.
CONTINUUM of FORCE / PROGRESSION of FORCE