BERLIN – Berlin police this week presented the Mayor and Council with a detailed list of general orders, which includes policies and practices the department already adheres to but are not necessarily on the books.
For example, the nine-page document outlines a complex list of general orders related to the ranks and responsibilities of sworn officers, a broad range of issues related to the training and deployment of the department’s K-9 units, and the handling of juvenile suspects and detainees, among others. Chief Arnold Downing explained the general orders presented for his department don’t necessarily include changes in policies and practices, but merely codifies the accepted policies and practices of his department.
“I don’t think you’ll see any major changes in here,” Downing told the council. “This just kind of lays out what we already have in practice.”
Downing said one of the provisions in the document outlines who is in charge in the event he is not available. In those rare circumstances, the supervisor would be the officer available with the highest rank, and if two officers with the same rank are available, the officer with the most seniority would take charge.
A large section of the revised general orders document deals with adopted procedures and practices regarding the deployment of the K-9 units, from training procedures to the use of police dogs and their handlers for searches and scans to the tracking and apprehension of suspects using the K-9 units.
The purpose of the department’s K-9 unit is to assist officers by conducting searches by employing the unique olfactory abilities of the dogs. For example, the K-9 unit can be used for a variety of searches along with tracking and apprehending criminal suspects. The K-9 teams may also be used in crowd-control situations or during large disturbances to deter criminal activity.
The general orders approved by the council on Monday also include a large section on the handling of juveniles and outlines procedures for juveniles. The document defines juveniles detained by police into two different types: those who have been detained as criminals for offenses for which an adult would be arrested; and those who have not been charged with a crime, but rather are being detained for their own welfare, such as runaways, for example.
Downing explained most of the general orders were borrowed or copied from allied agencies.
“Most of these things we have borrowed from Ocean City,” he said. “We generally follow Ocean City and back that up with things we follow from Salisbury.”