TPD Updates Use Of Force Policy

By: Matt Galka Email
By: Matt Galka Email

By: Matt Galka
October 23, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Interim Tallahassee Police Chief Tom Coe would not say the controversial D.U.I. case involving a Tallahassee woman who ended up with multiple injures was the sole reason for a policy change.

Coe said that any time there is a case like the one involving Christina West, the Tallahassee woman who was arrested for D.U.I. after she suffered a broken cheek bone and black eye, the police department will review policies.

The changes include officers using "verbal de-escalation, verbal commands and other verbal distraction techniques."

The memo sent out by Chief Coe also states that "the subject's voluntary compliance is the desired outcome of an officer-subject encounter."

When asked if the changes indicated that the police department was not okay with the amount of force that was used on West, Coe answered: "Not at all, I would go back and look at the police procedures regardless of the case, and we'll have an internal affairs investigation that should be completed in the near future, and then we'll make a decision about the use of force; whether it was in procedure or not," said Coe.

Coe said the internal affairs investigation should be completed within the next couple of days.


UPDATED
By: Julie Montanaro
October 23, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Interim Police Chief Tom Coe has updated TPD's use of force policy in the wake of a controversial DUI arrest.

An October 7th memo from Chief Coe to all sworn personnel makes two changes to the department's use of force policy.

It says anytime an officer's use of force results in injury to a suspect or an officer, it must be reviewed by a sergeant, a lieutenant, and forwarded to internal affairs for review by TPD's legal advisor.

The memo also tells officers to try to gain control - when practical - by using "verbal de-escalation, verbal commands and other verbal distraction techniques."

It goes on to say "The subject's voluntary compliance is the desired outcome of an officer-subject encounter."

The changes, the memo said, are an attempt to avoid injuries and are not intended to reduce the options available to officers.

The changes come in the wake of the release of a dashcam video tape last month.

It shows two Tallahassee police officers forcing Christina West to the back of the patrol car and then to the ground after she slipped out of her handcuffs during a DUI stop in August.

West wound up with a broken cheekbone, a black eye and other injuries.

West's attorney, Fred Conrad, had this to say about the changes to the use of force policy:

"This clearly demonstrates the brass at TPD had the ability to implement proper use of force policy and training before all of this happened. It's too bad it took a video tape of two cops almost twice the size of my 120 pound client smashing her face into the pavement to get them to pay attention. It is even more disturbing that they felt comfortable doing it in front of 2 sergeants with a video camera running. Hopefully, this policy change is a start to a much needed change in the "us against them" mentality that is pervasive among some in the law enforcement community today."

The two officers remain on leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. A grand jury will continue to review the use of force at its next session November 12th.


By: Matt Galka
October 23, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - TPD has updated its use of force policy in the wake of a controversial DUI arrest.

A dashboard camera video started it all. It shows two police officers forcing Christina West to the back of the patrol car and then to the ground after she slipped out of her handcuffs during a DUI stop in August.

West wound up with a broken cheekbone, a black eye and other injuries. TPD Interim Chief Tom Coe has now updated the department's use of force policy. An October 7th memo says anytime an officer's use of force results in injury to a suspect or an officer, it must be reviewed by a sergeant, a lieutenant, and forwarded to internal affairs for review by TPD's legal advisor.

The memo also tells officers to try to gain control by using "verbal de-escalation, verbal commands and other verbal distraction techniques..."

It goes on to say "the subject's voluntary compliance is the desired outcome of an officer-subject encounter."

The changes, Chief Coe said, are an attempt to avoid injuries. and are not intended to reduce the options available to officers.


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