TPD Response to Resistance / Pursuits – Policies and Practices
The Tallahassee Police Department is committed to enhancing the quality of life in our community and working in partnership with all citizens to enforce the law, preserve the peace, and reduce the fear of crime while maintaining the highest level of professional standards. We recognize there may be times when the application of force may be necessary in order to take a suspect into custody. However, TPD officers are trained in response to resistance techniques and are expected to use force that is objectively reasonable to effectively bring a suspect/incident under control, while protecting the life of the officer and/or others.
The following is an explanation of TPD's Response to Resistance (Use of Force) policy, which is a guide to selecting effective, reasonable and legal force options during verbal or physical encounters.
Response to Resistance Policy
Justifiable use of force is defined in Florida Statutes 776.05
Response to Resistance (Use of force) policy statement – General Order 60
“The Department and its officers recognize the value of all human life. While the majority of officer/citizen interactions are peaceful, the Department recognizes there are limited circumstances when officers will face resistance to their lawful orders and efforts. When officers are engaged in any response to resistance encounter, they are responsible for making the preservation of human life their first priority and using only the amount of force objectively reasonable to effectively bring the incident under control.”
This policy was recently revised and is based on the US Supreme Court decision in “Graham v.Connor”, CALEA and CFA accreditation standards, and PERF recommendations to ensure TPD’s training, force applications, documentation, and reviews comply with or exceed all state and national standards in regards to Response to Resistance incidents.
In 2015, TPD officers were involved in 215,380 separate incidents (self-initiated activity and calls-for-service), and utilized 1,821 force applications (documented on 750 different Response to Resistance Reports). This means TPD officers used force applications on less than 1% of all incidents. Additionally, of these 1,821 force applications, 1,214 consisted of the officer(s) giving verbal commands while have some type of weapon displayed. TPD officers used physical force only 607 times (0.28% of all incidents) in 2015.
General guidelines for applying force include:
A. Based on the totality of the circumstances officers, when practical, should attempt to gain control of a response to resistance encounter by using verbal de-escalation techniques. A person’s voluntary compliance is the desired outcome of any officer-person encounter.
B. In any response to resistance encounter, officers shall use only the amount of force objectively reasonable, based on the facts and circumstances known or perceived by the officer at the time force is employed, to overcome and control the actions of resistive persons.
1. The reasonableness of the force employed must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident and must allow for the fact police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments – in tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances – about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.
2. The test of reasonableness is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application
Factors officers may consider when applying force:
The determination of whether or not an officer’s response to resistance was objectively reasonable must be done on a case-by-case basis. Several considerations, including those outlined by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Graham v. Connor may be used in such a determination, including:
1. The type and severity of the incident or crime at issue,
2. The person posing an immediate threat to the officer or others,
3. The person’s physical resistance to an arrest or other lawful detention,
4. The person fleeing from an arrest or other lawful detention,
5. The size, age, relative strength, skill-level, and physical condition (including injury or exhaustion) of the person and the officer,
6. The officer’s level of training and experience,
7. The number of persons and/or number of officers on the scene,
8. The duration of the incident, specifically in relation to the physical resistance offered by the person,
9. The time available to an officer to make a decision to use response to resistance levels of control/force,
10. The person’s proximity or access to weapons,
11. Environmental factors and other exigent circumstances, and
12. The officer’s perceptions at the time the decision to use force was made.
Response to Resistance (Use of Force) Report
A Response to Resistance (Use of Force) Report must be filed under these circumstances
1. Apply any technique considered deadly force (e.g., strikes to the spine, throat or eyes).
2. Respond to resistance through any technique or action that results in, is likely to result in, or is alleged to have resulted in, the injury or death of another person.
3. Discharge a firearm or a less-lethal firearm other than on the firing line during Department sanctioned firearms training or Department sanctioned recreational activities.
4. Respond to resistance using any less-lethal weapon (e.g., impact weapon/baton, CEW, OC Spray or other chemical agent, canine bite/apprehension).
5. Respond to resistance using a physical control technique.
6. Remove their handgun from the holster, deploy their shoulder firearm, or deploy their less-lethal firearm for use, AND there is a subsequent encounter with a person involving one or more of the following:
a. The firearm is pointed at the person.
b. The firearm is visible to the person while the officer is giving verbal commands for compliance.
c. The muzzle of a firearm is “swept” across any person.
Weapons policy statement – General Order 61
“The Department shall establish procedures for the utilization of Department-issued and Department-approved weapons. Officers are responsible for adhering to established procedures in training, carrying, qualifying, and utilizing their assigned weapons."
Training and Proficiency
A. Before being authorized to carry any weapon, an officer shall:
1. Complete initial training, and
2. Demonstrate proficiency with the weapon (and any physical skills associated with the weapon).
B. All officers shall receive training in the use of force/response to resistance, per General Order 60 (Response to Resistance) at least annually.
C. All officers shall attend a weapons training session and demonstrate proficiency with their weapons at least biennially.
Force Resulting in Serious Injury or Death
Policy statement – General Order 63
“When an officer intentionally discharges a firearm at a person, or the response to resistance or other action by an officer results in serious injury or death to any person, Department members will make every effort to preserve human life, conduct a thorough investigation, and preserve the physical and emotional wellbeing of the officer directly involved.”
Investigation has two phases
• Criminal – conducted by TPD Violent Crimes Unit investigators
• Administrative – conducted by TPD Internal Affairs Unit investigators
• City Attorney's Office
• Office of the State Attorney
• Leon County Grand Jury
Vehicle pursuit policy statement – General Order 27
"Officers of the Tallahassee Police Department may conduct vehicle pursuits based upon the reasonable belief that the driver or occupant of the fleeing vehicle has committed a felony involving violence or the threat of violence to the officer or another person. Vehicle pursuits shall be conducted with due consideration for the safety of the public, the officers involved, and the occupants of the fleeing vehicle."
Considerations to initiate or continue a pursuit
1. Nature and seriousness of the offense precipitating the pursuit,
2. Likelihood of successful apprehension as a result of the pursuit,
3. Safety of motorists and other persons in the area,
4. Possibility of identification and later apprehension of the suspect(s),
5. Time of day and traffic conditions (e.g., pedestrian area, vehicle congestion, traffic pattern),
6. Road conditions and characteristics (e.g., construction or school zones, residential/business, urban/rural, divided highway, one way street),
7. Weather conditions, visibility and, if at night, available lighting,
8. Vehicle speeds involved,
9. The condition and performance capabilities of the Department vehicle.
10. Familiarity with the area,
11. Training and experience in pursuit driving,
12. Ability to accurately notify the CDA of the location and direction of the pursuit, and
13. Ability to maintain continuous contact with the CDA.
Authorized forcible stop techniques
• Ramming – used only when deadly force situation exists
• Road Block
• Precision Intervention Technique (PIT)
• Tire deflation device
• Initiating officer may terminate at any point.
• Sworn field supervisor or higher authority may terminate pursuit