A tight lid is being kept on a review that reportedly takes a look at the Colorado Springs Police Department's use-of-force policy.
Asked about the review, department spokesman Lt. Howard Black says via email, "We constantly review all of our policies and yes there is currently a review underway on our Use of Force Policy. It would be premature for me to comment until the review is complete and has been approved by the Chief of Police."
Sources say the department's policy is getting scrutiny from top brass and might involve mandatory documentation whenever an officer draws his gun, whether it's fired or not.
Officers pulled Ryan Brown from his vehicle in March 2015 and drew their guns on him after a traffic stop that he and his brother, Benjamin, allege was motivated by their being black. The department ruled the stop justified and proper. But in October, the ACLU of Colorado filed suit against the CSPD on the Browns' behalf, calling the stop "a clear-cut case of racial profiling."
The CSPD has paid about $500,000 in other use-of-force cases in recent years, including $100,000 last spring to settle a lawsuit stemming from Officer Tyler Walker throwing an 18-year-old woman to the floor face-first while she was handcuffed. Walker later left the department of his own volition. The department is litigating another case in which a man's home was bombed by police in 2012 after he discharged a gun into the ground and later wouldn't come out of his house.
In May, Police Chief Pete Carey announced results of an internal study of the department's use of force, and said he would adopt all 11 recommendations, ranging from providing guidance on when to investigate a use-of-force policy violation to improvements in documentation by officers and supervisors.
The CSPD's current use-of-force policies require officers to use force "as judiciously as possible" and state that "alternatives to force are preferable whenever they can be employed effectively."
Policies advocate using a continuum of force that includes verbal commands and physical tactics such as handcuffing before resorting to use of firearms.
"The nature and degree of force used by officers must be in direct response to the actual or imminent use of force being used against them, and must de-escalate or cease once the offender has become compliant, has stopped physically resisting, or is no longer a threat to cause harm to officers or others," the policy states.
Regarding deadly force, the policy says, "Officers may use deadly force only to protect themselves or others from what the officers reasonably believe to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury." In addition, deadly force may be used to capture or prevent an escape but only when the officer reasonably believes a suspect poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others.
"Deadly force as used in this policy is defined as intentional use of force which can cause death or serious bodily injury, or which creates a degree of risk that a reasonable and prudent person would consider likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. It may include, but is not limited to, use of firearms, choke holds, and intentional intervention with a vehicle (forcible stops or ramming)," according to CSPD policy.
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