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Our Use of Force Policy dictates when situations are reasonably stabilized, application of force must proportionally de-escalate or cease, in accordance with the subject actions, when control is gained, or the threat is removed.
The Department’s use of force model is designed to proportionally align officer actions with subject actions. This model also allows for escalation, stabilization, and de-escalation as the subject’s actions change.
A hold around the neck, that is designed to restrict airflow, commonly called “chokehold” or “stranglehold” is not a defensive tactic that is used nor part of our training program.
A carotid control hold is different in that it does not restrict airflow. Officers are trained and certified on an annual basis on this technique and it may only be applied in specific situations.
Officers are trained to repetitively give verbal commands/warnings, when practical, when a force response may be required. This is the case for not only deadly force encounters, but also prior to other uses of force, such as the activation of a Taser or deployment of a K9.
Our use of force policy is very direct that officers will use only that amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to effect the lawful purpose intended. Officers must apply an immediate risk assessment in order to determine the timing of force and which tools and tactics to employ.
All force applications shall be in conformity with the statutes and Constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington.
Officers are required to complete a Use of Force Report every time force is required during a lawful action. The department utilizes a comprehensive computer tracking program that acts as a clearinghouse for department data relating to use of force incidents and pursuits. This affords us the ability to conduct thorough review of all use of force applications to ensure compliance with policy. This system also acts as an early warning/intervention tool for administrative purposes.
Our current policy does include a force continuum. In January of 2020 our department began a partnership with a nationally recognized policy and training development team, with the intention of conducting a complete review and edit of all department policies, including use of force. It is expected this policy transition will include updates to our Use of Force Policy that should be completed in the very near future.
Every officer-involved force response requires the event be documented on a department Use of Force Form. This is the case regardless of the outcome of the force event. Even if the subject sustains no injury, the event is documented. In the event of death being the result of officer response, a Use of Force Form would still be completed. This situation, however, would also trigger a death investigation conducted by the Snohomish County Multi-Agency Response Team (SMART), an investigative team comprised of members of outside police agencies. No member of the Marysville Police Department would be part of this independent investigation. The documentation of a force event is very comprehensive in nature, requiring great detail in describing the event and any factors that were present at the time force was used.
While it is not specifically stated as asked in this question verbatim in current department policy that an officer must intervene to stop excessive force, department policy does include provisions that speak to the treatment of the public during the course of official duties. It is certainly the expectation of the department that officers would intervene in the described situation. That said, our Force Response policy update that is currently under development does address this situation, outlining an officer’s “duty to intercede” in the event they are witnessing excessive force. This also includes the requirement to report their observations both verbally and written.
Policy relating to the shooting of moving vehicles by officers is also under development, having been drafted and in the process of being adopted. The policy speaks to the inherent danger of shooting at moving vehicles and recommends avoiding taking this action, but it does not outright ban officers from doing so.