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Columbia police expand 'use of force' documentation

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department has announced new procedures for "use of force" reporting.

The new procedures went into effect April 1 and require officers to document on a form, in addition to the existing standards:

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  • Handcuffing when an arrest is not made
  • Pointing a firearm at a person
  • Any physical force used to overcome resistance

"Historically, we  have vigorously reported some aspects of the force we use, but not others," Deputy Chief Tom Dresner said. "Even though ... deadly force is not deadly force until the trigger is pulled, there are situations where we sometimes point firearms at people but don't pull the trigger, and we felt it was important to document that too."

Burton adopted 52 guidelines for Taser use, training, internal oversight and medical care for people shot with a Taser from the Police Executive Research Forum in April 2009. The adoption came after a large community push headed by the Coalition to Control Tasers.

The original use of force situations that officers had to report were:

  •  Baton usage
  •  Firearm usage
  •  Motor vehicle accident
  •  Motor vehicle pursuit
  •  Pepper spray usage
  •  Strikes
  •  Taser usage
  •  Other uses of force

"We're constantly analyzing what we do and are trying to measure ourselves against best practices for law enforcement," Dresner said.

The change is a part of a push by Police Chief Ken Burton to attain accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The Columbia Police Department is not currently accredited, nor has it ever been. The department began the process in the early 1980s, but didn't complete it, Dresner said. Since Burton's arrival, policies in all departments are being rewritten to adhere to CALEA standards, according to the news release.


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