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Baltimore Police update decade-old use of force policy

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Posted at 8:13 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 07:24:27-04
It hasn't been changed in more than 10 years, but now the Baltimore Police Department is updating its policy on use of force by its officers.
 
Mayor Stephanie Rawllings-Blake said the Department of Justice is conducting a review of Baltimore police practices and has been made aware of the new police. Police said community stakeholders, such as the ACLU-MD and the NAACP, were at the table for discussions.
 
"Our officers are in a better position because of these changes," Rawlings-Blake said at an afternoon press conference at police headquarters.
 
The policy had not been updated since September 2003.
 

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Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the updated policy brings about a new day in Baltimore. He said city police will be guided by the new use of force policy, and officers must now focus on de-escalation tactics.
 
What they're calling the "sanctity" of human life must be "preserved" in all situations, Davis said.
 
"We are not doing this to our police officers, we are doing this for them," Davis said.
 
The policy is part of 26 core operating policies governing everything from use of force to how certain investigations are conducted. All 2,300 sworn officers will be handed the new guide, will be expected to carry the manual while in the field and must be up to speed on all 14 pages by July 1, when the policies become effective.
 
Jason Johnson, the departments director of strategic development, said officers had been trained for six weeks leading up to the deadline.
 
 "We looked at other law enforcement agencies considered best practice agencies," Johnson said. "We looked at what they do and we looked at some of their policies and some of the common denominators."
 
The policy mandates that officers provide immediate medical assistance after any use of force incident, a subject of the trials of the six officers involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
 
Whether Gray asked for medical attention, and when he did, has been a sticking point in the trials of three officers charged in Gray's death so far.
 
"Realistically, we're making these changes because they comply with best practices, they comply with the expectations of our community," Davis said.
 
Officers are also required to intervene in instances where they notice a fellow member using excessive force. If not, that officer is subject to disciplinary action, according to the policy.
 

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