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(A) Statement of policy. The need to use force, whether deadly or non-deadly, is one of the most demanding and critical decisions that a law enforcement officer must make. There are, however, situations when an officer must make the irreversible decision of whether or not to use deadly or non-deadly force. Such a decision can have a powerful and possible harmful effect on the officer, the department and the community.
(1) Recognizing that the town cannot make the decision for its police officers in advance, it must provide some guidance to aid in the making of that decision. The procedures that follow provide the guidelines to ensure that the use of force by members of the town’s police force is undertaken with the greatest degree of due care; however, this policy is established for the use and guidance of the town’s police force only and does not apply in criminal or civil proceedings. This policy should not be construed as creating a higher standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense with respect to third party claims than is imposed by law.
(2) The policy of the town is to allow its police officers to use only that force which is reasonable and necessary to effect an arrest or to protect themselves or others from personal attack, physical resistance, harm or death. The decision to exercise force of any level, must be based upon the circumstances that the officer reasonably believes to exist. The decision to use force is better predicated upon the danger posed by a subject confronted by the police than one based upon the general nature or category of an offense.
(3) While the use of deadly force is most commonly associated with firearms, it is not limited to such weapons, but may include other so-called “non-deadly” protective instruments issued to the town’s police officers, such as batons and flashlights or any other means (including the use of hands) used by an officer.
(B) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
DEADLY FORCE. Defined in I.C. 35-31.5-2-85, and means force that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury.
FORCIBLE FELONY. Defined in I.C. 35-31.5-2-138 as a felony that involves the use or threat of force against a human being, or in which there is imminent danger of bodily injury to a human being.
NON-DEADLY FORCE. All force used by a police officer other than deadly force.
PROTECTIVE INSTRUMENT. Any device authorized for use by the Town Marshals and utilized by a police officer to apply force to another person.
(C) Use of force.
(1) Levels of force. The town recognizes four levels of authority, including three levels of force that may be applied by officers in the official execution of their duties. These are:
(a) Communication/verbal, control/presence. In the daily performance of his or her job requirements, a police officer’s presence represents government authority. Situations that officers encounter may require not only their presence, but frequently some form of verbal or non-verbal communication. This communication may take the form of providing information, giving commands, asking or answering questions, physical gestures, conducting interviews or the like. It may also take the form of issuing specific instructions to individuals or groups, dealing with arguments, verbal assaults, threats and handling disputes or disagreements. In the event that the presence, communication or verbal control is not sufficient to protect, control or arrest, then the officer may be justified to use reasonable and necessary force from the appropriate force options set forth below;
(b) Physical force. A situation between an officer and an individual or individuals may escalate to physical force. Physical force between officers and citizens ranges, from the slightest touching to the infliction of severe injury or death. Any use of force that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury may be employed only as provided in division (C)(2) below. Reasonable physical force that does not rise to the level of deadly force may be used if the officer reasonably believes that the force is necessary to effect a lawful arrest, to detain a suspect already in custody, to protect himself or herself or a third person from what the officer reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force, or to immediately prevent or terminate a suspect’s actions. Physical force as contemplated in this division (C)(1)(b) entails the use of any human body parts such as head, teeth, shoulders, arms, hands, knees and feet. In the event that physical force is not sufficient to protect, control or arrest, then the officer is justified in using reasonable and necessary force from the appropriate higher level options listed below;
(c) Protective instruments. The use of verbal communication or physical force to control a situation may escalate to the use of a protective instrument by the officer. The officer may not employ protective instruments when the use of the same creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury except in accordance with the procedures set forth in division (C)(2) below; and
(d) Deadly force. Deadly force will be used only in accordance with the procedures set forth in division (C)(2) below. Deadly force includes the use of firearms, protective instruments or other force options which creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury. While it is intended that officers use the lowest level of force possible. Options are not predicated on strict hierarchical sequence, nor must the officer always elect to start at the lowest level. The officer must evaluate the immediate circumstances and select the appropriate level of force for those circumstances. While consideration of the crime committed or attempted may play a role, it should not be the determining factor. Rather, it is the level of force being used against the officer or citizen and the immediate potential for death or serious physical injury to the officer or innocent bystanders or victims upon which officers should base their decision to use force of any level.
(2) Authorized use of deadly force. Officers may use deadly force:
(a) If the officer reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person;
(b) 1. If the officer has probable cause to believe that deadly force is necessary:
a. To prevent the commission of a forcible felony; or
b. To effect an arrest of a person who the officer has probable cause to believe poses a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or a third person.
2. The officer has given a warning, if feasible, to the person against whom the deadly force is to be used.
(c) To prevent the escape of an arrested person if the officer:
1. Has probable cause to believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent the escape from custody of a person who the officer has probable cause to believe poses a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or a third person; and
2. Has given a warning, if feasible, to the person against whom the deadly force is to be used.
(3) Other uses of force.
(a) The discharge of firearms to destroy dangerous and/or injured animals (where no other alternatives are reasonably available), to relieve their suffering or to protect the officer or third persons from serious bodily injury is authorized. The officer shall complete a use of force report.
(b) An officer may utilize deadly force outside of the corporate limits of the town only in the circumstances permitted in division (C)(2)(a) above.
(c) Firearms may be drawn whenever officers have reason to fear for their safety or the safety of others.
(d) When discharging a firearm for any reason, officers must exercise reasonable caution in order to avoid unnecessarily endangering the lives of bystanders. When possible, officers should give consideration to the shooting background, bystanders and location.
(4) Prohibited uses of force. Officers of the town shall not fire warning shots or fire shots at or from a moving vehicle. When confronted by an oncoming vehicle, officers shall move out of its path, if possible, rather than fire at the vehicle.
(5) Medical care.
(a) Officers will be required to obtain medical attention and evaluations for individuals who show signs of any injury as a result of any use of force, who complain of any injury as a result of any use of force, who become unconscious either during or following any use of force, or when the officer reasonably believes an individual is in need of a medical evaluation or medical attention as a result of any use of force.
(b) Medical attention shall be provided immediately or as soon as practicable.
(c) Medical evaluation may be performed by responding emergency medical personnel at the scene of the incident or by medical clinic or hospital personnel.
(d) Once on the scene, officers will adhere to the advice given by emergency medical personnel as to the need for further medical care beyond that provided at the scene.
(D) Use of force reporting requirement.
(1) When required. The use of force report will be completed any time force is used:
(a) Which results in an injury to an individual;
(b) Where an individual claims that he or she is injured as a result of the amount of force used;
(c) Where force is applied by the use of any protective instrument;
(d) When a firearm is discharged other than during authorized target practice; or
(e) As provided in division (C)(3)(a) above.
(2) Officer’s responsibility. An officer required to complete a use of force report shall complete and forward the same, prior to the end of the officer’s tour of duty, to the officer’s supervisor (or the Town Clerk-Treasurer, if the use of force was by the Town Marshal) who shall review the same and forward the same to the Town Clerk-Treasurer.
(Prior Code, § 26.03) (Ord. 99-04, passed - -)