Baltimore Adopts New Police Use-Of-Force Policy With De-Escalation

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Baltimore’s police department plans to implement a new use-of-force policy tomorrow that emphasizes the “sanctity of life,” stresses de-escalation, and requires officers to intervene if they see a fellow cop crossing the line, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the new policy as the U.S. Department of Justice prepares to release the results of its sweeping investigation into the department’s patterns and practices. The first full rewrite of the policy since 2003 comes more than a year after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody — an incident that sparked widespread protests against police brutality, the Justice investigation and the prosecution of six officers.

Rawlings-Blake said the use of force by officers is “one of the most scrutinized areas in policing, and it is incumbent upon the police department to ensure its officers are well trained and knowledgable about the procedures when a decision is made to use force.” Rawlings-Blake said city residents never tell her they want “an aggressive police department; they say they want an effective police department,” which she said the changes would help create. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said officers would be empowered by the clarity in the new policy, and said any suggestion the changes would inhibit officers from policing proactively was “just silly.” David Rocah of the Americn Civil Liberties Union said the new policy is “certainly an improvement” over the old one, but still has “significant problems.”

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