TPD modifies use of force policy, rejects one recommendation from Citizens Police Review Board

TPD modifies use of force policy, rejects one recommendation from Citizens Police Review Boar
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee’s Citizens Police Review Board is recommending changes to TPD’s use of force policies, in response to an incident last year when an officer hit a man with a baton repeatedly during a DUI arrest.

Documents show TPD is accepting one of those policy changes but rejecting another.

The one change that TPD implemented was to specify that officers can use a baton to hit someone on certain parts of their body only in response to aggressive resistance. That’s defined as aggression that presents a threat of physical harm.

“It’s traumatizing anytime you have to see violence happening in your community,” said Taylor Biro.

Biro sits on the CPRB which recommended changes to TPD’s policies.

The second recommendation would prevent officers from using batons if there are multiple officers on the scene, except in cases where the person is showing extreme aggression.

“Our main point was that it doesn’t take four law enforcement officers to hold down one smaller gentleman who is unarmed and not being violent,” Biro said.

But TPD rejected that suggestion.

The department declined an interview but said in a statement that waiting until things escalated to extreme aggression could put officers at an increased risk of being injured and make the use of a baton less effective.

Attorney and Tallahassee NAACP president Mutaqee Akbar said he’s disappointed.

“It’s more than the ceremonial things,” Akbar said. “It’s more than the press conferences. It’s more than the meetings. It has to be real stuff to do policy changes. And law enforcement has to be willing to be be able to do that,” Akbar said.

Akbar represented the man whose arrest prompted reviews of the baton policy.

City Commissioner Jack Porter said she’s eager to see how the reviews board responds to the disagreement with TPD.

“I think this is a really precedent-setting moment for this board,” Porter said. “Because they’re in their first year or so this is one of the first big issues they’re making recommendations on.”

Porter also said she would like to see the board take this issue up with the Tallahassee City Commission.

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