Denver residents’ repeated calls for more community involvement in the drafting of the updated police use-of-force policy have led to three community meetings on the issue, the Denver Post reports. “You’ve got to understand, this is a draft, it’s only a draft,” Chief Robert White said at one meeting on Saturday. “I want to be candid with you, very few departments … would go to this degree to have communication about the policy. When it’s all said and done, I feel very confident that this will be one of the most restrictive policies in the country.”
The draft directs officers to avoid rushing into volatile situations and to use de-escalation techniques that limit using weapons. It was met with criticism from outside groups who felt they should have been consulted, including Denver’s Citizen Oversight Board, the Police Protective Association and Colorado Latino Forum. A majority at Saturday’s meeting felt that the policy was a step in the right direction but still needed work. They asked for more data collection surrounding use-of-force incidences, such as a citizen’s age, gender, ethnicity, etc. Many sought clarity on the body camera program. Others asked the chief to shore up portions of the policy that seem vague, leading to potential loopholes, or could use further explanation, a sentiment shared by experts who reviewed the policy at the request of the Denver Post. The Fraternal Order of Police critiqued the codification of de-escalation, saying that seven proposed considerations and tactics officers must make are “adding dangerously to the decisions an officer has to make prior to defending himself or a citizen.” Besides, the letter went on, officers already use de-escalation tactics and don’t need a new policy to implement it.