Use of Less than Lethal Force Policy


NMU Public Safety and Police Services
Date:  June 24, 2011


Scope

This policy shall apply to all department personnel of the NMU Public Safety and Police Services Department in all cases involving use of less than lethal force.


Definition of Less Than Lethal Force

Less than lethal force is defined as any use of force less than deadly force used by an officer of the NMU Public Safety and Police Services Department and includes any use of less than lethal weapons.


Purpose

The purpose of this document is to establish policy and regulation for the use of force which is less than deadly force, designating approved less than lethal weapons, establish the reporting requirements in every instance involving the use of force, and provide for the treatment of any injury or complaint of injury resulting from the use of force.

This policy is for internal use only and is not intended to enlarge the employee’s or employer’s civil or criminal liability in any way.  It shall not be construed as the creation of a higher legal standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense with the respect to third party claim, insofar as the employee’s legal duty imposed by law.

Noncompliance with this policy constitutes a violation of an employment duty only, except in such case as any noncompliance is also a violation of a Michigan or Federal law.  Therefore, violations of this policy, if substantiated, can only form the basis for inter-departmental administrative sanctions.

In the event a violation of the duties imposed by this policy also constitutes a breach of the duties imposed by Michigan or Federal law, nothing herein shall be construed to relieve one from that legal duty or from any action resulting from a breach of that legal duty.


General Policy

It shall be the policy of the NMU Public Safety and Police Services Department to employ the minimum amount of force, reasonable and necessary, to overcome the resistance offered, effect a lawful arrest, and/or accomplish the lawful performance of duty in protecting the public.

It is understood that attacks by armed assailants may result in the officer employing a higher degree of force, up to and including deadly force.

The use of unreasonable, unnecessary or excessive force, and/or the failure to provide prompt medical treatment following the use of force shall in every case result in certain disciplinary action, up to possible termination, against those who use or allow the use of such force or fail to provide for the care of persons in custody.


Authorized Use of Less Than Lethal Force

  1. Against persons assaulting a student, employee or other citizen to prevent injury and/or continuation of the assault when alternatives to the use of force have failed or are not available to the officer.
  2. Against persons offering physical resistance to lawful arrest when alternatives to the use of force have failed or are not available to the officer.
  3. Against persons passively resisting a lawful, full-custody arrest when alternatives to the use of force have failed or are not available to the officer.
        

Less Than Lethal Weapons

The policy for carrying and the use of less than lethal weapons are as follows:

  1. Officers will be trained in the proper use of department approved less than lethal weapons.  Documentation will reside in the officer’s training file.
  2. All employees that work in a patrol capacity, even if only on occasion and regardless of rank, will be required to pass the required training and carry the department issued less than lethal weapons unless exempted by the Director.
  3. Officers issued a less than lethal weapon will be required to carry it on their duty belt, in the approved holster, unless exempt by the Director.
  4. At no time shall an officer unnecessarily brandish or use the less than lethal weapon as an intimidation device, unless the officer is attempting to prevent further escalation of force.  Any officer found to be involved in “horseplay” with less than lethal weapons will be subject to disciplinary action.
  5. Application of less than lethal weapons against large groups of people in strikes, demonstrations, or civil disturbances will be only at the command of the Director or his designee.

Failure to Complete Training/Demonstrate Competence  

Any non-exempt sworn officer who fails to complete any required training and/or who fails to demonstrate the required level of competence in the use of the department issued less than lethal weapon is prohibited from carrying/using the weapon.  The circumstances would then be reviewed by department administration and appropriate action taken.


Electronic Control Device

The department approved electronic control device is a tool that can provide a means by which an officer can defend themselves or another from injury and a means of controlling offenders when facing resistance.  Whenever an officer uses an electronic control device, it should always be with the intent to temporarily disable an offender and never with creating a permanent injury.


Chemical Weapons

The department approved chemical weapon is a tool that can provide a means by which officers can defend themselves or another from injury and a means of controlling offenders when facing resistance.  Whenever an officer uses a chemical weapon for control, it should always be with the intent to temporarily disable an offender and never with creating a permanent injury. 


Handcuffs and Restraints

The purpose of handcuffs, flex-cuffs, or transport handcuffs is to restrain the movement of a subject in a manner that provides a safe means of transportation for officers.  Restraints also control further physical resistance from a subject.


Prohibited Use of Other Equipment

Flashlights, handcuffs, or any other piece of equipment shall not be used as a less than lethal impact weapon.


Medical Considerations

Any time an officer finds it necessary to use less than lethal force and the subject sustains an injury, it is the policy of the NMU Public Safety and Police Services Department that the officer shall:

  1. Immediately contact and advise the supervisor of the nature of the incident.
  2. The supervisor shall direct the transport of the subject to the nearest hospital for medical attention.  If the subject is un-cooperative and/or refuses medical treatment, this should be indicated in the officer’s written report.  All department personnel shall be alert to any injury or complaint of injury occurring as a result of the use of less than lethal force.
  3. Any subject who refuses medical treatment and has sustained a minor injury or suspected injury shall be verbally encouraged to be transported to the hospital for examination.  If the subject is injured or injury is suspected and treatment is refused, the EMS, Emergency Medical Services, rescue unit will be summoned.  EMS personnel will observe the injured party and be requested to complete any required paperwork, detailing specifics of the injury(s) and the subject’s refusal of treatment.  A copy of the EMS report will be requested and attached to the original police report. 
  4. Any officer having observed or received complaint of injury shall be responsible for assuring medical examination/treatment is provided.

Defensive Tactics

Methods and/or tactics such as “arm bars” and various subduing and control holds commonly taught in MCOLES (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) approved training, and by certified defensive tactics instructors, may be used as provided herein where the use of less than lethal force is authorized.  The MCOLES Use of Force continuum shall be utilized as a guide.

Any officers exempt from the training specified in this policy will only be exempt by authority of the Director.


Reporting the Use of Force

The use of force shall be reported to the supervisor, forthwith, following any such use.

  1. Any incident involving use of less than lethal force shall result in a complete written supplemental report describing all circumstances, lawful basis, manner/method/degree of force used, fully detailed information describing type and degree of injuries by any person involved and any treatment provided.
  2. Such supplemental reports shall be completed immediately following each incident involving the use of less than lethal force.


Important Elements of Reporting Use of Less Than Lethal Force

The following report writing format should be used for use of less than lethal force incidents:

Officer Arrival

  • Marked unit vs. unmarked
  • Uniform vs. plain clothes
  • Number of officers

Approach

  • What you observed
  • Your initial verbal commands

Subject’s Action

  • Subject’s verbal responses
  • Subject’s body language
  • Subject’s physical actions

Officer’s Action

  • Type of control method used
  • Duration of resistance
  • Type of de-escalation methods used
  • Handcuffed and double locked

Transport Procedure

  • Subject’s demeanor and actions
  • Where subject was transported to


Review Use of Force

All incidents involving use of less than lethal force shall be reviewed by the supervisor for compliance with department policy.

The supervisor on duty will see that copies of all reports involving the use of force are prepared for review by the Director.


Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with any provision of this policy may result in disciplinary action being taken up to possible termination of employment.