Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Justice Department: More than half of law enforcement agencies require reports when officers unholster their guns

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge A sheriff's patrol car was placed outside the Sheriff's Office after Deputy Micah Flick was killed as a memorial to his sacrifice. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A sheriff's patrol car was placed outside the Sheriff's Office after Deputy Micah Flick was killed as a memorial to his sacrifice.
In this week's Independent, we dive into what some officers and witnesses say happened the day El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy Micah Flick was killed.

Those officers, who spoke on the condition they not be identified by name, along with witnesses to the shooting, say the multi-agency auto theft task force tried to arrest auto theft suspect Manuel Zetina without drawing their weapons ahead of time, without calling out to him to announce they were the police, and without bearing police insignia on their clothing.

The report also looks at training of the task force.

Contributing to the strategy to take down the suspect using only their hands, some officers say, is a policy change that requires officers of the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to report when they point their firearms at people. The former policy required reports only when they discharged their weapon.

Law enforcement experts say that policy change is becoming more prevalent across the country, so we asked the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice, whether it could substantiate that trend.

The short answer is the BJS cannot, because it's asked the question only one time, in 2013 when it compiled its Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey.

But it's still interesting to learn that in 2013, 57.2 percent of general purpose law enforcement agencies who responded required documentation when a firearm was displayed. General purpose agencies are those with one or more sworn officers whose patrol and enforcement responsibilities take place within defined boundaries of a municipal, county or state government.

For local police departments, the estimate was 57.9 percent, and for sheriffs’ offices it was 54.7 percent.

For state law enforcement, however, only 38.1 percent required written reports when a firearm was displayed.

"As noted above," BJS spokesperson Tannyr Denby Watkins says via email, "BJS only asked the question that way in 2013. With just one data point, BJS data cannot speak to any trend and we have no data that can speak to the results of such monitoring."

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