The following addresses the eight procedural reforms of the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign:
- Ban Chokeholds and strangleholds – The South Orange Police Department does not, train its officers in chokeholds, strangleholds, or any other type of carotid restraint/hold. The South Orange Police Department has adopted the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force and therefore is not permitted to perform chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints, or similar tactics on any individual, except in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.
- Require de-escalation – At the South Orange Police Department, officers are trained in de-escalation during the police academy, through field training, and continuing education during their career. Most recently the South Orange Police Department has hired consultants to train our command staff in both de-escalation and lawful/unlawful application behind use of force. It should be noted that because of the unique, rapidly developing, and unpredictable circumstances sometimes presented to officers, not every call for service affords the responding officer(s) the opportunity to de-escalate a situation.
- Require warning before shooting – Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “If feasible, a law enforcement officer should identify himself/herself and state his/her intention to shoot before using a firearm.”
- Require exhausting all other means before shooting - Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “a law enforcement officer shall not resort to the use of deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that an alternative to the use of deadly force will avert or eliminate an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and achieve the law enforcement purpose at no increased risk to the officer or another person.”
- Duty to intervene - Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “Every law enforcement officer is expected and required to take appropriate action in any situation where that officer is clearly convinced that another officer is using force in violation of state law. Law enforcement officers are obligated to report all situations in which force is used illegally by anyone.”
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles - Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “An officer shall not fire from a moving vehicle or at the driver or occupant of a moving vehicle unless the officer reasonably believes there exists an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or another person AND no other means at that time are available to avert or eliminate that danger. A law enforcement officer shall not fire a weapon solely to disable moving vehicles.”
- Require use of force continuum - Per agency policy the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “In determining to use force, the law enforcement officer shall be guided by the principle that the degree of force employed in any situation should be only that reasonably necessary. Law enforcement officers should exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to the use of force. It is the policy of the State of New Jersey that law enforcement officers will use only that force which is objectively reasonable and necessary. “
The application of force that is objectively reasonable and necessary is the current national legal standard on use of force which has been determined by the Supreme Court of the United States in their decisions rendered in such cases as: Tennessee v. Garner (1985), Graham v. Connor (1989), and White v. Pauley (2017). In addition, SOPD as well as all New Jersey law enforcement agencies and officers are also bound by the New Jersey State Constitution and legal precedents determined by our State Supreme Court that may impose additional requirements or restrictions on the Use of Force.
The following Use of Force options are available to South Orange police Officers:
Constructive Authority - Constructive authority does not involve actual physical contact with the subject, but involves the use of the law enforcement officer’s authority to exert control over a subject. Examples include verbal commands, gestures, warnings, and un-holstering a weapon. Pointing a firearm at a subject is an element of constructive authority to be used only in appropriate situations.
Physical Contact - Physical contact involves routine or procedural contact with a subject necessary to effectively accomplish a legitimate law enforcement objective. Examples include guiding a subject into a police vehicle, holding the subject’s arm while transporting, handcuffing a subject and maneuvering or securing a subject for a frisk.
Physical Force - Physical force involves contact with a subject beyond that which is generally utilized to affect an arrest or other law enforcement objective. Physical force is employed when necessary to overcome a subject’s physical resistance to the exertion of the law enforcement officer’s authority, or to protect persons or property. Examples include wrestling a resisting subject to the ground, using wrist locks or arm locks, striking with the hands or feet, or other similar methods of hand-to-hand confrontation.
Mechanical Force - Mechanical force involves the use of some device or substance, other than a firearm, to overcome a subject’s resistance to the exertion of the law enforcement officer’s authority. Examples include the use of a baton or other object, natural agent spraying (e.g. pepper spray)
Deadly Force - Deadly force is force which a law enforcement officer uses with the purpose of causing, or which the officer knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily harm. Purposely firing a firearm in the direction of another person or at a vehicle, building or structure in which another person is believed to be constitutes deadly force. A threat to cause death or serious bodily harm, by the production of a weapon or otherwise, so long as the officer’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that deadly force will be used if necessary, does not constitute deadly force.
Deadly force may only be used when the officer reasonably believes that such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
A South Orange Police Officer is under no obligation to retreat or desist when resistance is encountered or threatened. However, a law enforcement officer shall not resort to the use of deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that an alternative to the use of deadly force will avert or eliminate an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, and achieve the enforcement purpose at no increased risk to the officer or another person.
The South Orange Police Department does not authorize, equip, train, or use the following means/methods of Force: tear gas (CN/CS), distraction (flashbang) devices, canine (K9), conducted energy devices (Taser), less lethal force (rubber or bean bag bullets), chokeholds/strangleholds/carotid restraints.
- Require comprehensive reporting - Per agency policy and the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines on Use of Force: “In all instances when physical, mechanical or deadly force is used, each officer who has employed such force shall complete:
- Any reports made necessary by the nature of the underlying incident
- Use of Force Report detailing the type and degree of force used
- Supervisors shall review all information and evidence available from digital and non-digital sources that are available to them prior to approving and submitting a Use of Force Report.”
- The South Orange Police Department shall immediately notify the County Prosecutor when the use of physical, mechanical or deadly force results in death or serious bodily injury, or when injury of any degree results from the use of a firearm by a law enforcement officer.
- The South Orange Police Department shall immediately notify the County Prosecutor whenever the preliminary investigation reveals the possibility of a criminal act on the part of the subject officer.
- The South Orange Police Department shall immediately notify the County Prosecutor whenever a death occurs in custody.
- The South Orange Police Department shall immediately notify the County Prosecutor of all excessive force allegations whether made by a citizen, a supervisor or other officer.
- The South Orange Police Department shall make an immediate phone call shall to the on-call detective from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) whenever there is any indication that there is an excessive force incident that was recorded by private citizens.
- The South Orange Police Department shall make any other immediate notifications as may be directed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office or the County Prosecutor.
- For all situations involving the use of physical, mechanical or deadly force, The South Orange Police Department shall report at least annually to the County Prosecutor in a manner established by the Prosecutor.