8CANTWAIT INITIATIVE – DCSO RESPONSE
In 2014 in response to the recommendations put forth by the Police Executive Research Forum, the Dane County Sheriff’s office took a hard look at our policies, procedures and agency culture. As a result, we discovered areas where we were unintentionally lacking in transparency, sensitivity to the cultures we serve and protect and accountability. We immediately went to work by forming committees and work groups to address issues such as fair and impartial policing and creating a clear and concise mission statement and vision for our staff and community. In 2015, our efforts were realized and published to the department via our code of conduct. In essence, we developed policies and procedures that incorporate what is now in a concise initiative requested by our community in 2020, “8 can’t wait.” Because this initiative came after the development of our code of conduct and the work we did between 2014 and 2020, we were careful to not make an immediate statement but rather review and research our current practices to ensure they are in line with what our community expects from us. We are pleased to share with you what we are currently doing and announce that we will once again be looking inward to ensure that we are representing our communities as the guardians of all who live within it. We hope that you can rest assured that the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, guided by our core values, are committed to providing a safe and secure community through professional service and partnerships.
- BAN CHOKEHOLDS AND STRANGLEHOLDS:
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) bans the use of any chokehold except in the case where deadly force would be authorized and a hold were the only alternative. In addition, the DCSO Jail and Law Enforcement Academies does not instruct any restraint or defensive technique that utilize the neck area.
- Facts and Reasoning:
- Deputies are required to make split second decisions based on the rapidly unfolding situation (s) they encounter, and act with appropriate levels of force depending upon what they deem the threat to be based off of their training and experience.
- The DCSO utilizes the WI DOJ DAAT (Defensive and Arrest Tactics) and POSC (Principles of Subject Control) curriculum. This is the basis of training for all new recruits and continued education within the DCSO’s yearly, mandatory 24-32 hours of training. Refresher Protective Alternatives (controlled strikes and kicks was taught as recently as January 2020, department-wide).
- For maintaining control, deputies are taught, if a subject is on the ground, to use a 3-point ground stabilization. This technique trains deputies to keep one knee on the ground, next to the subject’s nearest arm and the deputy’s other knee across the shoulder-blades, specifically, because that is the strongest part of the back and will not inhibit breathing by putting weight across the back, damage the spinal cord or have contact with the neck.
- When subjects are under control, we move them to the recovery position (on their side, with head supported) if awaiting medical care, or help them to stand back up and prepare for transport.
- Both the DOJ curriculum and the DCSO Use of Force Policy states that force is only used at the level needed to maintain control and after control is achieved, force must be reduced. Even when the level of force, which is dictated by the subject, increases, deputies have options when it comes to defensive tactics. Dynamic situations may necessitate the need for dynamic applications, which again would not allow for anything relating to the neck unless deadly force was required. These concepts are continually trained to DCSO staff in both the Academy and through in-service.
- REQUIRE DE-ESCALATION:
The concept of “verbal” de-escalation, may better be called Crisis Intervention. De-escalation itself is defined as “reduction of the intensity of a conflict or potentially violent situation.” There are many trained ways to de-escalate a situation. What the community is looking for is a verbal dialog or an attempt at crisis intervention before force is used. Communication first is always recommended if the situation allows for it. The DCSO trains heavily and stands firmly in the belief that Presence and Dialog continually resolve the majority (approximately 98%) of all law enforcement contacts.
- Facts and Reasoning:
- The DCSO Use of Force policy states that Presence and Dialog are the first two methods that should be attempted in any situation. Again, force or the threat of force, is dictated by the subject, and deputies must respond to that based on DCSO policy, training and experience.
- To date, over 80 deputies have attended a relatively new 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) course geared towards subjects who are experiencing various types of crises and how to verbally de-escalate the situation or reach out to resources that can assist.
- All deputies attend Professional Communications Skills (PCS), a 24-hour course in both the Jail and Law Enforcement Academies. This class highlights using communication to maintain control, handle conflicts, and most importantly, gain voluntary compliance.
- Other skills taught in Professional Communications are how to read and assess body language, talk with people in crisis, build rapport, handle disturbances and learn when it is time to stop talking and take action. When subjects refuse verbal directions, and/or present threats to deputies, the public, or themselves, force is needed.
- Communications and use of force techniques are not taught in a vacuum. In academy training and via yearly continued education, deputies are taught through hands-on scenarios, often-times using real world events as a guide to practice and talk through appropriate responses.
- The DCSO believes that communication is the ideal method to handle all law enforcement contacts. All of our deputies start their careers working in the Jail where they gain a plethora of experience talking to subjects in a controlled environment that greatly prepares deputies for the patrol atmosphere. All DCSO deputies receive additional yearly training where communication and crisis intervention is reinforced in some manner.
- REQUIRE WARNING BEFORE SHOOTING:
The DCSO policy states “When practical, deputies shall identify themselves and state their intent to shoot or use deadly force before doing so.” This is in compliance with Supreme Court case that covers verbal warnings in the use of deadly force (specifically Tennessee V Garner). It is important to recognize that there are times when giving a warning will potentially create a greater risk of danger for both the deputy and the lives of others. We train in a simulator and on the range when verbal announcements are tactically sound and when they are not. Specifically, in 1st session in-service in 2019, we covered that a verbal warning should be given if you have sufficient time, distance, cover and it would not increase or prolong the danger to self or others. We also trained this in 4th session in 2019 when covering our response to active shooter threats.
- REQUIRE EXHAUSTING ALL ALTERNATIVES BEFORE SHOOTING:
The DCSO policy lays out the circumstances that must be met to justify the use of deadly force by using the state’s justification for the use of deadly force. It does not specifically mention preclusion, but preclusion is included in all State use of deadly force training. We have also talked about preclusion, at our last several in-services when we have covered deadly force. Specifically we discussed it in-depth at 1st session in 2019 with specific points on Deadly Force being the last resort and how preclusion is a necessary part of the decision making process.
- DUTY TO INTERVENE:
As far back as 2005, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office has trained deputies to intervene when their partners are acting outside of policy or are acting offensively in any manner through a Professional Communications Skills concept titled, “Contact Officer Override.” Our Use of Force Policy, #200.520, includes a parameter which states that Deputies are expected to prevent misuse of force, intervene in situations involving misuse of force, and report any misuse of force to a supervisor.
In 2014 deputies participated in “Below 100” training which included a section titled, “courageous conversations” which gave recommendations on how to intervene when they notice their partner behaving inappropriately or in a manner that could injure the deputy and/or our clients. In addition to training our incumbent deputies, we use the State of Wisconsin academy required training for our new hires which includes Contact Officer Override training in both Professional Communications Skills and Ethics portions of training.
- BAN SHOOTING AT MOVING VEHICLES:
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that any apprehension of suspects operating a motor vehicle is a danger to the public, the deputies involved, and to the suspect. Because of the inherent danger involved, our Pursuit Policy, # 200.140 states that the decision to pursue a vehicle must be based on the deputy’s conclusion that the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the risk to the community should the suspect remain at large.
Our Use of Force Policy, #200.520 further instructs that deadly force is justified when the suspect/suspect’s actions has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to the officer or another person or persons. Therefore, by policy, deputies would not be permitted to pursue or shoot at a suspect in a moving vehicle unless the risk to the general public or the deputy is greater than the risk of not shooting at the vehicle.
- REQUIRE COMPREHENSIVE REPORTING:
From the time Deputies are in the Law Enforcement Academy until they retire, they are required to write comprehensive reports detailing their contacts and interactions with a variety of citizens in Dane County, WI. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office requires a full written report in addition to most fillable forms used to track activity. Each report is reviewed by a supervisor and reports that meet the criteria are reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to our Use of Force Policy, #200.250, each deputy involved in a use of force incident where they are required to use a compliance hold (or greater level of force) up to, and including Deadly Force is required to write a report detailing the incident. Any use of force incidents are reviewed internally by the “Use of Force Committee”. Additionally, use of force incidents are tracked and reported using the Uniformed Crime Reporting program to the FBI via the WI Department of Justice.
- REQUIRE USE OF FORCE CONTINUUM:
The DCSO adheres to the State of Wisconsin DAAT system for our use of force. The state specifically moved away from the Use of Force Continuum in the early 2000’s as they realized this gives the appearance that the deputy must move through all the lower options to reach a higher level of force. There are times when a deputy must immediately move to a higher option to control the person or situation.
We operate using the Intervention Options as laid out by the State DAAT system. We have spent significant time in the last couple years going over the criteria needed to justify any uses of physical force.