The Denver Police Department announced Wednesday it would make “philosophical” changes to its officer’s use of force. A draft of the potential policy amendments released to the public includes the establishment of a threshold indicating whether to apply physical force while on duty.
Other provisions listed the circumstances that would elicit officers to shoot at moving vehicles and use deadly force in self-defense, according to local reports. The changes encouraging de-escalation call for officers restraining their use of batons, chemical agents, stun guns and service dogs.
The Denver Police Force said in the draft they were creating a “use of force policy” that would be implemented through extensive training programs required for each officer. And any force that did not meet the necessary, reasonable and appropriate force explained in the policy would be treated as “inappropriate force,” according to the statement.
The potential policy changes instruct officers to keep a safe distance and wait for backup when facing violent situations. These rules aiming at acquiescing volatile circumstances differ vastly from the previous procedure observed by the Denver Police Department in which police were told to quickly take control of the incident by any means necessary.
“The use of force, especially force likely to result in serious bodily injury or death, is a serious action. When deciding whether to use force, and in the application of force, officers will act within the guidance and parameters of the decision-making model, department policy, and training,” the statement reads.
Denver Police Chief Robert White said officers would begin their training to achieve these policy changes by the end January. White hopes that these meetings alongside mandatory ethics training sessions scheduled to start at the same time would make his police force “one of the more progressive departments in the country.”
“This is not to say that what we were doing was wrong. I think we have a responsibility to always evolve and figure out how we can do things better and more effectively,” White told the Denver Post. "Citizens have raised the bar as it relates to what they expect from the police department....so I think it’s only appropriate that we raise the bar also."
Denver witnessed 44 homicides in 2016 as of Nov.4, 2016. There were 963 Americans killed by the police in 2016, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, 64 police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty last year, CNN reported on Dec. 13, 2016.