Baton Rouge Police Department Union President Sgt. C. Bryan Taylor said Friday that he agrees with use-of-force policy changes Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced on Thursday.
Taylor reiterated that the five policy changes Broome announced are practices that BRPD trains its recruits in and uses on a daily basis. He said he was trained in each of them when he went through the policy academy in 1995, and that he is happy to see them written into policy if they make the public more comfortable.
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The policies include:
• Officers must give verbal warnings before using deadly force unless there are extenuating circumstances.
• Officers cannot use force before trying to de-escalate situations when possible. The outlined strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting on subjects, summoning reinforcements and calling in specialized units.
• Police cannot use chokeholds or strangleholds unless they are in an emergency and do not have other weapons available.
• Police cannot shoot at moving vehicles unless the people inside of them pose immediate deadly threats.
• Officers are now required to intervene to stop their colleagues from using excessive force. They are also required to report when they see another officer use excessive force.
"There are no ill-effects to the police department by adding these things to policy," Taylor said in an interview with The Advocate. "I consider them common sense things that every police officer should know and should adhere to here."
Chief Carl Dabadie said Thursday that the addition of the policies would give him and other supervisors more leverage to discipline officers who violate them. Taylor clarified that officers still could have been disciplined in the past for practices that go against their training.
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He used the example of shooting at a vehicle, saying officers are required to notify their supervisors when they fire a weapon on the job. An officer who shot at a vehicle in the past still would have had to go through an internal affairs investigation that would be presented to the chief. And Dabadie would then determine whether an office had justification to shoot, Taylor said.
Another example was notifying supervisors after watching another officer use excessive force.
"Not only do we train in it, we believe in it because we're out there to do good," Taylor said. "If we have people who wouldn't do that in the first place, we would have issues."
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Taylor added that officers have to go through state-mandated qualification courses where they give verbal warnings before they start firing rounds from a barricade. The process "ingrains it into you" to give verbal warnings, Taylor said.
Still, Taylor said he did not want to downplay the significance of writing the practices into BRPD policy. He applauded the addition.
"By putting it in policy, it may reiterate the importance of that," Taylor said. "And I'm good with that."