Mississippi Capitol Police, who shot four people in the first months of an expanded crime suppression mission in the city of Jackson, issued new guidelines on when officers can use force against the public.
The state agency quietly revised its use-of-force rules in late April after NBC News found it had deployed aggressive street units last summer without modernizing policies to reflect its new mission.
He new use of force policy, which covers the Capitol Police and other agencies under the Department of Public Safety, reflects some changes adopted by American police departments in recent years. It includes a “duty to intervene” to prevent another officer from using excessive force. It also adds the widely adopted «objectively reasonable» standard, set out in a US Supreme Court decision that describes what a typical officer would do in the same circumstance, to measure what kind of force is acceptable.
He old politics was written in 2006, when the agency primarily provided security for government buildings. Experts said it included confusing and inconsistent language that likely made it difficult for officers to understand what was allowed.
All of the shootings, including the murder of a young father, remain under investigation. No officer has been sanctioned in any of them. State officials have refused to comment or release information about the shootings until the state Attorney General’s Office decides whether to file criminal charges against any of the officers.
The changes come as the Capitol Police amass more power in Jackson. On July 1, its jurisdiction will expand beyond a district surrounding the city center to encompass the entire city. The hoarding was made possible by a Republican-backed state law, it happened in march, which was opposed by a majority of elected leaders in the majority-black, Democratic-led city. Civil rights groups are suing to block the law from going into effect, saying it discriminates against Jackson residents.
Sean Tindell, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, has acknowledged problems with the Capitol Police’s 17-year-old policies. In addition to revising the use of force policy, he said the agency is updating many other policies, including a a contradictory one in car chasesIt also dates from 2006.
The changes are an attempt to bring the Capitol Police closer to national standards, Tindell said in an interview. “The original policy for the Capitol Police was instituted in September 2006, and obviously a lot has evolved since then,” Tindell said.
Experts said the revised use-of-force policy was a big improvement.
“It’s certainly better than what they had before,” said Robert Pusins, a retired Fort Lauderdale, Fla., police department major and now a consultant.
But the experts also found fault.
pusins said use of force policies should require officers to use de-escalation techniques whenever possible to avoid the use of force. The new Capitol Police policy does not mention de-escalation.
Chris Burbank, a former Salt Lake City police chief and consultant to the Center for Policing Equity, which helps agencies reduce the use of force, said the new use-of-force policy does not prohibit chokeholds, which restrict breathing. , or «lateral neck vascular restrictions,» which restrict blood flow to the brain. The new policy also says that an officer «is not required to withdraw or step back before resorting to the approved use of force, including deadly force.» Such an arrangement is not uncommon, experts say.
That, and a provision allowing officers to fire at or from moving cars under certain circumstances, left Capitol Police exposed to unnecessary risk and fewer opportunities to hold officers accountable who use deadly force, Burbank said.
“It’s a good policy but it does nothing to improve the public trust that we’re trying to earn,” Burbank said.
Jim Bueermann, a retired police chief in Redlands, California, and former head of the National Police Foundation, now known as the National Police Institute, a nonprofit research organization, said the new policy was not enough. away to give officers the option of avoiding a pursuit or other confrontation that could result in the death of someone (the officer, a suspect, or a member of the public).
“Any time they believe someone is shooting at them, officers could probably articulate compliance with the policy by simply defending themselves rather than just backing off,” Bueermann said.
Tindell said the new policy seeks to discourage shooting during car chases and the use of chokeholds, but acknowledges that there may be «exceptional circumstances,» where someone’s life is in danger, when they may be necessary. She also noted that the new policy requires an annual review of all use-of-force incidents to identify patterns.
The Capitol Police released their new use of force policy in response to a public records request. It did not include any wording. That was a change from earlier this year, when the agency redacted much of its 2006 use-of-force policy, and its 2006 car chase policy, before providing a copy. Experts said the redactions were unusual and could make it difficult for the Capitol Police to appear transparent with the public. Experts have also criticized the Capitol Police for not posting their policies online.
The new use of force policy prohibits officers from turning off their body cameras. But the Capitol Police have not equipped the vast majority of their officers with body cameras: About 11 of the 130 officers have them. The agency has also not installed dash cameras on its patrol cars. Both types of cameras are considered standard equipment for investigating officer use of force and building public trust.
Tindell has said he plans to provide body cameras to all Capitol Police officers with money provided in the new state budget. The agency is reviewing vendor proposals, she said.