Mayor Broome reveals changes to BRPD use of force policies

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge introduced policy recommendations Thursday that put restrictions on when Baton Rouge police officers can use force.

"The policy changes were recommended by an advisory council Broome established immediately after her election," said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome during a press conference.

The five policy recommendations for BRPD are as follows:

  1. Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
  2. Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
  3. Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
  4. Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
  5. Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.

The summer of 2016, including the shooting death of Alton Sterling at the hand of two BRPD officers, put police practices in Baton Rouge under the microscope. During her campaign, Weston Broome said she would change things.

"This has been part of training, but has not been policy," Broome explained.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said the principals laid out in the plan are already part of BRPD training. Even so, he said it is important to have them in writing.

"We've always taught de-escalation principals and things along these lines in our academy process," Dabadie said. "As opposed to it being an understanding of this is part of police work and this is what you do, now it is an actual policy that an officer can be held accountable for his actions."

If they violate the policy, an officer could be reprimanded or even fired, depending on the infraction.

The policy ideas were assembled by a committee of Baton Rouge clergy, business owners, and law enforcement officials, including Dabadie.

However, even some on the committee had concerns about the policies. Rev. Reginald Pitcher, who serves as the executive director of the National Alliance for Social Justice, objected to the final list of proposals and boycotted Thursday's press conference.

He said the policies are simply feel-good measures that do nothing to enhance rules already on the books.

"There's nothing new," Pitcher said. "You can implement any policy change, law you want. But if the hearts of the police officers are not changed in dealing with African American people, it does not matter what the policy says."

Weston Broome, who has long promised to replace the chief, was also asked about what is in store for Dabadie. She said she continues to have conversations with the chief but said she had no new updates.

WAFB's Kevin Frey was at the press conference and will have more information at 5 and 6.

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