(Webpage Updated on June 30, 2020)
The Santa Rosa Police Department continuously reviews and makes changes to policies to ensure legal compliance. Some of these changes in 2020 include:
- Further restricting the use of force: Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances known to or perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Read more in Section 300.3 here.
- Banned the carotid restraint: The Police Department does not authorize the use of the Carotid Restraint, choke holds, or bar arm restraints. Read more in Section 300.6 here.
- Encourage de-escalation tactics: The Santa Rosa Police Department encourages de-escalation tactics including the use of less lethal weapons when applicable, and generally some form of less lethal weapon should be available to officers during all operations. Read more in Section 309.2 here.
- Clearly defining when to use a Taser: The policy updates more clearly define the known circumstances when a Taser application is reasonable. Read these circumstances here in Section 309.5.
- Modifications to body-worn camera policy: A function of the body-worn cameras allows for video recording while audio recording is disabled. Santa Rosa Police Department issued cameras have this function disabled. Additionally, officers may now face disciplinary action if they do not turn on their body-worn camera prior to or upon arrival to any call for service. Read more in Section 450 here.
View all the policy changes here.
View the original policy documents here. Edits to the written manuals are underway, but the changes are already in effect as of June 16, 2020.
Taking a Closer Look at the Existing Policies:
Banned Carotid Restraint:
SRPD’s existing policy does not authorize the use of chokeholds or bar arm restraints. As of June 9, 2020, we no longer allow the use of Carotid Restraint.
SRPD existing training includes de-escalation techniques to reduce the use of force during encounters. We incorporate ongoing de-escalation in our Firearms training, Force Options Simulator, Tactical Communication, Taser, and Defensive Tactics. We strive for de-escalation in the field whenever possible, only using force as necessary. Policy 300
Use of Force Continuum:
SRPD existing policy divides the use of force into low, medium, and high levels. Officers shall use only the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances known to or perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose (Penal Code 835a). Our training outlines factors used to determine the reasonableness of force, such as the age of the individual, disability, the seriousness of the crime, mental state, intoxication, and proximity of weapons. Officers provide verbal commands and warnings when possible before using force. When force is used medical attention is immediately sought out for subjects with any injury or complaints of pain or discomfort. Our ultimate objective for every encounter is voluntary compliance and to avoid or minimize injury when applying reasonable force. Policy 300.5
Requires Warning Before Shooting:
Per 835 PC, officers will, when reasonable, identify themselves as an officer and warn before use of force, including firing a weapon. This warning is incorporated into our ongoing firearms training.
Restricts Shooting at Moving Vehicles:
We do not allow shooting at moving vehicles unless it is in defense of life. This training is part of our ongoing firearms training. Policy 312.7
Exhausts All Other Means Before Shooting:
The use of force is a critical concern and serious responsibility. Deadly force will only be used when necessary and employees understand and respect the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice. Officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion to determine the appropriate use of force and are trained in a variety of less-lethal tools and tactics. Policies 306, 308 and 309
Duty to Intercede:
Our existing policy reads, “Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.” We are all informal leaders and should work to support each other and hold each other accountable so that we learn and correct our behavior in all aspects of our career. Policy 300.7
Requires Comprehensive Reporting:
All incidents involving the use of force are documented. Officers are required to immediately report the use of force to a supervisor and required to document the use of force in a report. The supervisor then conducts a Use of Force investigation which is reviewed by the chain of command. Our department utilizes IAPro, our Internal Affairs software, to track the use of force incidents. (Policy 300.8) The Department reports the required information to the Department of Justice. We also meet transparency and reporting mandates per California Law SB 1421 and AB 748. SRPD posts information required to be released by law on our transparency page.