Tak­ing cover part of Cleve­land’s po­lice re­form plan

Re­vised use-of-force pol­icy sent to judge af­ter DOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Tamir Rice case

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Mark Gil­lispie

CLEVE­LAND — Cleve­land po­lice of­fi­cers will be re­quired to try us­ing deesca­la­tion tech­niques such as tak­ing cover as part of a re­vised use-of-force pol­icy sub­mit­ted to a fed­eral judge Wed­nes­day in an agree­ment over re­form­ing the de­part­ment.

The tech­niques are in­tended to help of­fi­cers avoid hav­ing to ap­ply lethal or non­lethal force. The pol­icy also man­dates that more strin­gent re­port­ing re­quire­ments be met when force is used.

Chang­ing how Cleve­land po­lice of­fi­cers use force is a key el­e­ment in an agree­ment be­tween the city and the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus- tice. The sides agreed to a court-mon­i­tored con­sent de­cree in May 2015 af­ter a DOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tion found a pat­tern and prac­tice of of­fi­cers us­ing ex­ces­sive force and vi­o­lat­ing peo­ple’s civil rights.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. will de­cide whether the new poli­cies com­ply with re­quire­ments in the de­cree. If the poli­cies are ap­proved, of­fi­cers are ex­pected to be­gin train­ing early next year. It’s not clear when Oliver will rule.

The idea of tak­ing cover is some­thing that might have saved the life of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy shot by a white of­fi­cer within two sec­onds of a cruiser skid­ding to a stop next to him out­side a Cleve­land re­cre­ation cen­ter.

Tamir had a replica gun that shoots plas­tic pel­lets.

Rookie Of­fi­cer Ti­mothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir in Novem­ber 2014, and his part­ner, Frank Garm­back, were crit­i­cized for not stop­ping their cruiser sooner, which might have given them time to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion. The of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing to a re­port about a man wav­ing a gun and point­ing it at peo­ple, but they weren’t told the caller had said the man was likely a ju­ve­nile and the gun likely wasn’t real.

Both of­fi­cers were spared charges.

The pro­posed new pol­icy says force must be nec­es­sary and “pro­por­tional” to the threat an of­fi­cer faces.

The new poli­cies also re­quire of­fi­cers to give first aid to peo­ple who are injured.

Loehmann and Garm­back were crit­i­cized for not pro­vid­ing first aid to Tamir af­ter the shoot­ing. An FBI agent and trained paramedic who ar­rived about four min­utes later was the first per­son to tend to Tamir.

The DOJ noted that it pre­vi­ously in­ves­ti­gated ex­ces­sive force in 2002 that led to a new use-of-force pol­icy two years later.

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