BERLIN – The Berlin
Police Department’s Use of Force policy underwent some changes this week,
adjusting the wording to reflect the appropriate use of force by police
“There’s some change in
language,” said Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing.
The term “minimum force”
has been changed to “proper force”.
Many attorneys challenge
the term “minimum,” Downing said,
“The minimum amount of
force will always be just police presence,” Downing said.
The order includes a
scale of aggressive actions to take, but officers cannot always go through each
level until they find the right response, the police chief said.
For example, Downing
said, if one person is assaulting another when a police officer arrives, the
officer cannot take the time to ask the aggressor to desist, but must intervene
physically to start.
The police chief also
agreed to what appears to be a minor text change in the Use of Force policy,
which requires that an officer taking part in a police involved shooting see a
psychologist. The officer’s family may also see a department chosen
psychologist at the department’s expense.
The original language
read “department psychologist”, which implies that the Berlin has its own psychologist,
which is not the case. The BPD would select a psychologist and pay for that
service if needed, Downing said.
The Commendation Board
general order also came in for some discussion.
The commendation board
is made up of three police officers selected by Downing.
Any citizen, staff
member or police department member can suggest that an officer or even a
citizen be awarded a police department commendation.
“Anyone can go ahead and
submit someone for doing a good job and a commendation … it doesn’t have to be
just our staff. We do it for citizens also,” said Downing.
Those wishing to
recommend someone for a commendation should contact Downing.
“Generally, we would
have to know the facts of it,” said Downing.
The chief would then
pass the information on to the Commendation Board and it would decide whether
to recommend an award. If one of the board members is the subject of the award
suggestion, the other two members of the board consider the matter.
Downing makes the final
decision on the award.