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Chiefs, Officials, and Trainers Draft Use-of-Force Guidelines to Reduce Officer-Involved Shootings

February 01, 2016  | 

As many as 200 of the nation’s most prominent police chiefs, Justice Department and White House officials, and police training experts convened in Washington on Friday to discuss policy proposals which, if implemented broadly, would amount to the most drastic police reform in decades.

During the forum, titled “Taking Policing to a Higher Standard," top officials from many of the nation’s largest police departments were urged to implement new training and departmental policies that supporters believe could lead to a decrease in the number of fatal shootings by officers each year — a topic near the top of the national consciousness in the 18 months since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“This is a defining moment for us in policing,” Charles Ramsey, the recently-retired commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, told the room. Ramsey, also a former D.C. police chief, was one of several prominent policing officials who said departments must act proactively to change their use-of-force policies instead of waiting for one of their officers to be involved in a controversial shooting.

“We need to raise the bar for all police departments,” Chuck Wexler, who runs the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing policy think-tank that organized the gathering, told the Washington Post.

Accurate national statistics on fatal police shootings were unavailable until last year when The Washington Post launched a database to track them, documenting 987 fatal shootings by on-duty officers in 2015.

Wexler presented The Post’s findings to the gathering of officials and said that even after removing all shootings in which the person killed had a gun, there were still hundreds of preventable fatal shootings last year.

“We can impact about 300 of those,” he said.

Among reforms discussed at length were retraining all officers in deescalation tactics and abandoning training that teaches the “21-foot-rule” — a turn of phrase taught to nearly all current U.S. police officers that is often interpreted by officers to mean they are justified in shooting any suspect with a knife or edged weapon who comes within 21 feet of them.

The suggested guidelines were released as a PERF report titled "Use of Force: Taking Policing to a Higher Standard."

Comments (28)

Displaying 1 - 28 of 28

westcoastleo @ 2/1/2016 5:39 PM

We need to raise the bar for all police departments?? How about raising the bar for the crooks out there??
Who are ""they"" to tell police officers how to train, what to train and what or how many feet should be between a person with a knife or any other weapon??

As a copper for 35 years, I never went to a supermarket shopping and told a clerk how to scan my items, I never told an ice cream server how to stack my bannana split, I never told the postal clerk how to tear off the stamps. So don't tell us what is safe or how to do our job. Maybe Michael Brown's mother should have been given advise on how to bring up her thug, thief, idiot of a boy..
Every LEO autta walk of the job and let the cities burn, let the thugs rob, steal, rape and murder. It's time for action by LEOs to fight back and get loud...

John @ 2/1/2016 7:07 PM

It's time to retire, cause there gonna start to retreat!

Tom Conlin @ 2/1/2016 8:58 PM

I wonder just how many actual force and firearms instructors, trainers, and experts were there? I wonder if they got any input from Officers, Supervisors and FTO's? I wonder how many Federal LEO's were there vs. Federal agency brass? I wonder how many elected Sheriffs vs. appointed Chiefs were there? I wonder when Chief Ramsey, God bless him, last worked an entire shift on the street without rank insignia? For that matter, I wonder how many of these Chiefs did the same? It's easy to armchair quarterback. Suit up and get out there.
This sounds a lot like a bunch of hospital administrators telling doctors how to practice medicine to avoid malpractice suits. They may have been doctors once, but the last time some of them did the work over which they now preside, using leeches was the latest and greatest technique.
I will be watching to see the conclusions they reach through the lens of who it is that's doing the concludin'. Love to hear just exactly what the input from the folks from the White House was, too.
Oh yeah, and let's abandon Dennis Tueller's research into attack response times because it isn't being taught properly. Hey, leaders, how about you set a good example and ensure the information gets taught correctly? Talk about throwing the 21' baby out with the PC bath water. Any administrator who complains that "this stuff isn't being taught right" and then doesn't take steps to correct it might as well be charged with Fraudulent Obtaining of a Paycheck and Felony Sniveling. Glad I retired when I did. Pray for the new troops.

retiredsgt @ 2/1/2016 9:36 PM

Violent criminals start these nightmares, not cops. Those who want reform should get input from cops who have been in shootings and can speak to how violent the people are who take on police. The more that cops aren't allowed to do their job, the worse life becomes for decent people in tough areas who want and need the cops, and the better it is for thugs who prey on them. I've worked inner city neighborhoods most of my 30+year career. I've met so many decent people in these areas. They stand to get hurt the most from ill-conceived ideas.

Also, 21-ft is a distance from which a suspect with a knife can attack an officer. It's not an automatic justification to shoot, but a factor for a cop to consider.

HowBoutYa @ 2/1/2016 9:49 PM

This braintrust of the nation's most prominent Police Chief apple polishers and/or retired has been suck-ups are so busy kissing the asses of the Justice Department and White House Officials, looking for their next higher paying "Gubment" gig, they don't care that this forum "Holding Police To A Ridiculous Standard" WILL get LEO's killed. But who cares right? I mean, let's sacrifice a few cops, as long as it keeps cities from getting sued and makes the animal acting "true cause" happy. The easy thing to do, since day one, was to blame the police because the "true cause" of these issues will never get/act any better. It just won't happen and we All know it! All of the suckup sellouts will ride this gravy train for all its worth, the "true cause" will continue to get more emboldened in their aggressive actions toward police, and more LEO's will die. Deescalation tactics my ass. Some of these jackwagons running this forum can't remember how to lace up a pair of coal black boots, let alone what a scene is like when you have 15 aggressive acting animals yelling/jumping around and a crackhead walking toward you with a butcher knife, within that 21 feet. If I shoot the crackhead, I lose my job at best, crackhead and/or family get $5 million. LEO dies, as he or she was called on to do his or her job, our family gets around $200k +/- in life insurance. JOHN, I wish I could retire.

CB @ 2/1/2016 10:30 PM

If we all got a flu bug, nationwide.....that would be OK, because the sheep think they can take care of themselves. We need to stick together more than ever!

ftrnr @ 2/2/2016 6:07 AM

I would guess that everyone there whose voice was heard was a political appointee. Appointed stuipidity: #8 strikes me in particular, "...prohibition against shooting at or from a moving vehicle unless someone in the vehicle is using or threatening deadly force by means other than the vehicle itself." So, for the assailant, using their car to try to kill an officer is not deadly force? We teach that using your car to hit someone (even the PIT at reasonable/high speed) is an application of deadly force. How does it make sense to say that when a vehicle (deadly force) is used against an officer he/she cannot respond with deadly force? ?#30... It is now the police's job to educate the families of mental health patients? That might be a great thing for Community Policing to do, and might help; but how about mental health practitioners taking on that role? More feel good crap. How about someone telling families to take charge of their kids and teach them to stay away from criminal activity?

Lt Roy Smith LASD @ 2/2/2016 7:02 AM

Maybe Wexler, and those chiefs who want this, need to go back on patrol. The problem is there are not enough shootings of felons in dangerous situations. And they use a newspaper for their material!!! Pretty soon these same idiots will propose the use of .22's or just never shoot, turn around and run away...cowards

Tom Ret @ 2/2/2016 7:18 AM

If these new policies go through, obviously drafted by non cops or those who haven't handled a significant call in 20 plus years, the rank and file cops need to start looking out for themselves as it is apparent that no one else is. It may take a change at the DOJ and a conservative president for things to change back where the officer's life is important and part of the reasoning behind policies in the use of force. Cops are already cutting back on pro active policing and this surely won't spur them on to aggressively go after criminals. The public will suffer as a result of higher crime and aggressive criminals going unchecked but in many cases they have brought it on themselves by not backing their officers. I take my hat off to anyone who would continue to do policing in places like San Francisco where large portions of the public and city officials care more for the armed thug than its officers.

XXXXX @ 2/2/2016 7:20 AM

Does anyone else find it ironic that the current White House administration is putting together policy for the law enforcement community on "Higher Standards"? Classic! They forgot to add that they receive their legal advice from the Rev. Al Sharpton. If I lied as many times as this administration has, I would be sweeping up French fries at the local McDonalds for a living. Wow, clean your own house first.

Larry D. @ 2/2/2016 7:23 AM

I would truly love to see the credentials for these Chiefs, Officials, and Trainers.

Larry D. @ 2/2/2016 7:23 AM

I would truly love to see the credentials for these Chiefs, Officials, and Trainers.

CM retired @ 2/2/2016 7:50 AM

All the data available to this group and they let a newspaper do their research? The 21 foot rule is a standard for a reason. As noted all participants are administrative folk. I feel sorry for men and women on the streets if this comes to pass. This is a joke.

Retired NY Boss @ 2/2/2016 8:00 AM

Everyday more and more stupidity comes out. I'm glad I'm a Retired NY Boss, I'd hate to be supervising my guys & gals in this climate. For those still out there, stay safe and God bless

tim @ 2/2/2016 8:24 AM

How about we teach people not to pull weapons on Law Enforcement! What the heck is the brass thinking about doing something so foolish as to abolish the 21 foot rule. Figures it would start In politically motivated Washington DC. Brass and administrators? Try getting the front line troops who are facing these threats to sign off on this ignorance!

Leonard @ 2/2/2016 11:33 AM

What a bunch of morons commenting on this topic, and the majority COPS as well. You guys give me a real sense of confidence that the public is protected...not. I surmise the public needs to be protected from you. I'll talk real slow and use little words so you can understand. Police in the US are too violent, too ill trained, lack rules of engagement an accountability when compared to other westernized nations. In Dec 2015, US police killed more citizens than UK officers did in the past 5 years. All this despite the fact that it's never been safer to be a police officer in this country.

Leonard @ 2/2/2016 11:48 AM

The PERF report is right. The standards need to change. Police equipment needs to change. All officers should carry tasers and have shields available to handle the suspect that has a knife or other sharp object. Officer attitudes and behavior need to change. It's not the public's job to respect an officer (although it should be given), it's the officer's job to respect the public. Rules of engagement need to established and enforced by police and civilian leadership. We need specialized teams within departments to handle the mentally ill, we can't expect every officer to handle every type of call. Physical violence should be the last resort rather than the first and deadly force should never be used unless there is a clear and immediate danger. Finally, quality officers need to be hired. Officers with good judgment, restraint and the psychological makeup to be an officer.

Tom Ret @ 2/2/2016 1:10 PM

Leonard- why don't you give us a run down on your many armed and physical encounters and arrests, criminal justice degree, police training credentials and experience in training police. I suspect you have none of these and are talking out of your ass again. Let me make it simple for you, those who actually have
the above experience and knowledge are not listening to you and have labelled you a dolt as you live in a philosophical world unlike cops who have to work in the real world. Cops really don't give a shit what you think Leonard.

Chuck W @ 2/2/2016 3:04 PM

Leonard, Lenny, Len. go pet your bunny. Funny how Grapes of Wrath Lenny always has to stir the pot by spouting off from his pie hole a whole lot of "pie' that he has no idea what he is talking about. Most likely getting the advice shouted down from the kitchen to the basement from his mommy. I truly love all these folks out there that have never worked in L.E. that can always tell you what you are doing wrong. I think we should all start doing what goons such as Lenny do, let's just go out there and tell everyone how we think they should do their jobs, whether we know anything about it or not. It really doesn't matter what Lenny the liar says anyway (remember last year Leonard when you said you would never post on these web sites again, remember when you said you would never grace us with your presence again), just can't trust a liar Lenboy so you are relegated to the dump heap , exactly where your opinion and your knowledge of all things L.E. belong. Small enough words for you Len?

xxxxx @ 2/2/2016 6:55 PM

Leonard you are brilliant. Oh please Leonard tell us more. I mean how did us morons ever make it as long as we did without your vast knowledge of police work? Please tell us Leonard what's the next step to your utopia? Please tell us, but use them small words and talk real slow so us morons cops can fully understand. You pompous A-Hole. Just curious, do you go onto the NASA website and tell them how to fly a space shuttle? Do you visit the auto mechanic's site and tell them which parts/tools to use? It must be difficult to be so "all knowing" as you. Oh one more question, when you walk across the water, does it sometimes feel like you might fall in or does the ground feel solid? Go back to your promise about never posting on here again. I'm sure the UK cops would love you and your advice on their website.

Robert @ 2/2/2016 11:25 PM

A couple of observations.
1. Amazing how much contempt there is for the public you serve (and who pays your salary).
2. A 1000 people were shot and killed by police last year...if 10% of that number could be decreased...shouldn't we at least be receptive to change as a society.
3. Police hate to have civilian control or oversight...but that is the system. If you don't like it quit and find a new job....this sheep thinks we would be just fine without CB and westcoastleo carrying a gun and badge.
4. We as a nation don't even accurately track police shootings...yet this group is convinced the current system is 100% correct and needs no changes..... And cannot be improved.
5. This group also feels that police are victims....sounds like the Republican Party convention.
The one post seemed to hit the nail on the head...hope for a speedy recovery to the LEO and let the justice system handle it from here out!!

Chuck W @ 2/3/2016 11:54 AM

Robert, I believe the "contempt" as you call it is not directed at the public we serve but rather at a bunch of politicians and administrators that have never been in L.E. or that have been so far removed making decisions based on politics and not common sense. and just because the citizenry "pays my salary" doesn't mean I have to suck their Johnson, I am sure you don't suck the Johnson of your boss just because he pays your salary.
Maybe if 10% of the bad guys would stop resisting and drop their weapon, 10% more would not be shot. I have no problem with civilian oversight, I do have a problem with someone that knows nothing about something making demands and decisions relating to the job. You and your "I would be fine with West Coast L.E. not carrying guns", sure you would. Typical response from the left, sounds just like a democrat convention, point fingers, call names, don't accept responsibility. I don't feel like a victim, and I will not be a victim for you or anyone else.

John Zumwalt @ 2/3/2016 4:33 PM

Wow!!??!! I have a question. All these Chiefs with all of these years of service. Many of them administrators for many years. I'm sure that in those years they have discussed reducing uses of excessive force. Obviously, they lived through events like Rodney King and Ferguson. Where has their commitment for ending this been? The answer is proper, adequate and consistent training. Run the reality of that past any Chief and watch how fast they forget about the problem.

John retired IA PD @ 2/4/2016 7:20 PM

Properly updated, adequate training and properly updated policies for LEO's is always beneficial. But, how about training of the citizens that we serve. What could they do to reduce violent confrontations with the police or other citizens for that matter? Perhaps parents need to teach their children to respect themselves, and others. Should there be some focus on all of the citizen on citizen crime? Drive by shootings killing many innocent people? Sex trafficking of our children? There are not easy fixes for these issues. Yes, LEO wrong doing should be investigated and dealt with appropriately. But it seems easier and politically correct to point the finger at the police. We can just blame the police. LEO can not do the job themselves. Society needs to do their part in making our communities a safe place to live, work, and play.

Scout @ 2/5/2016 10:23 AM

The PERF executive director needs to be removed! He has never been a cop but knows how to deal with dangerous situations after taking a taxpayer paid trip to Scottland!! It's time for the members of PERF to oust Wexler and get back to their original mission. Chuck Wexler is a fraud who only cares about publicly and money.

RDG @ 2/8/2016 4:38 AM

This is what happens when you put a bunch of over educated bureaucrats in a room together. They listen to the squeakiest wheel and lose sight of everything they learned on the road (if they were ever on the road). Right now the left wingers have their ear and they are making tons of money doing this study and that study about how the police are wrong and are not trained correctly. When the cops start walking off the job and they are left with a bunch of rookies and (generation Y) kids that don't know anything and are scared to death of their own shadows, they come crying that they can't control the masses. Then you will see the slow unraveling of society and America will become a military state in order to control crime. Really glad that after 31 years on the job I am just about done. You can't be a cop anymore. You are merely a puppet for society. No one wants the police around until they need them.

GyMack @ 4/1/2016 4:25 PM

Seems simple to me...tell the public to comply with the Police.
Nuff said.
We have seen how bad it can get by cowering to the bad guys/gals.

GyMack @ 4/1/2016 4:42 PM

Oops, almost forgot.
Leonard is a fool who has never worked in the streets. He hates Police. He would never be able to carry a firearm due to his mental issues.
FOAD, Leonard.

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