INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is answering calls to change its use of force policy.
Police behavior is dictated by what is called general order. It is used kind of like an employee handbook for police departments.
Changes to the general orders are not common but Wednesday morning IMPD redefined when and how an officer can use force against another person.
The number one change to how IMPD will use force is by trying to find a way to not use force. It is what the department general orders call deescalation, according to the new policy.
Officers should use communication, time, distance barriers and situational awareness to avoid placing themselves or others in undue jeopardy. Officers should also look for opportunities to slow encounters down to gain voluntary compliance or call for additional resources.
If the use of deadly force is required, IMPD has adopted a policy used in California that simply states an officer can use deadly force to prevent or defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person, to stop a person fleeing for any felon that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury.
The new policy also prohibits officers from firing into or from a moving vehicle. In 2017, two IMPD officers shot and killed Aaron Bailey after a traffic stop. The officers thought Bailey had a gun.
“Candidly I made a commitment that we would update the use of force policy after the tragic death of Aaron Bailey two years ago, it’s long overdue, I think it is more appropriate and addresses some of the community’s concern about the appropriate use of force” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
The use of force by Indianapolis police was highlighted during riots in late May. Police used chemical spray and batons to gain control of the crowds who were demonstrating in response to the killing of George Floyd. News 8 video of two IMPD officers striking a woman with a baton for a curfew violation has resulted in a civil lawsuit against the department, which police say they’re still investigating two months later.
In the new use of force policy officers can use department-issued tasers, chemical spray and batons, but the officer has to justify using any force.
The new policies go into effect next Monday and every officer will receive yearly training.